A Christmas Letter

Almighty God, I don’t understand. What are You doing in a child’s body? Why are You putting Yourself in a dirty stable on a cold night? Why are You entrusting Your beautiful Son to the care of two confused and vulnerable human beings?

The angels are singing tonight: the King has come! The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace: tonight He’s become human. For so many long years, so many centuries gone by, we’ve seen snatches of His glory. The burning fire on Mount Sinai. The still small voice coming to Elijah. The waters that drowned an old world; the great cloud descending on the tabernacle; they are equal pictures of the God we serve.

Somehow, this Child doesn’t quite fit. Our God is a God of power, of glory, of might. He is beautiful and frightening. An “untame lion” and a great eagle beneath whose wings we take refuge. He is a wind parting the Red Sea and a captain calling Elijah home in a flaming chariot. He is a Judge raining fire on Sodom and Gomorrah and an Angel wrestling with Jacob in the night. All of that I can understand. Beautiful and frightening; awesome and incomprehensible.

But a baby? The picture of everything that is humble and helpless. Everything I didn’t think God was. What is He doing in a manger? Why is the Glorious God of Jacob condescending to be worshiped by shepherds rather than kings; to be sought out by star-gazing strangers rather than adoring countrymen? Why is the Messiah, our Redeemer, the God of the Whole Earth, lying in a heap of straw surrounded by animals and people too busy to care?

I remember reading in Exodus when Moses asked God to show him His glory. It was all that Moses wanted. God agreed; He would let His servant see Him. But Moses could not look on God’s face. All He could be given was a fleeting glimpse of the LORD moving off into the night. To come any closer to the Ancient of Days would be to invite death. Man could not stand before God in such a way.

There was a day that he could. In the garden of Eden, before sin and a serpent ever entered the world, man walked with God every day. That day is gone. Moses desired nothing more than to see God’s face, but it was not a favour that could be given him. And yet, God desired to give it! The Lord Almighty wanted His children back. He wanted to walk with men again, to look on their faces and have them look on His. Yet, it was impossible for men to become pure enough to see God.

So God became one of us. The Creator of the Universe made the ultimate sacrifice. The Son of God became the Son of Man. He came into a body of dust so that He could join in our laughter and tears, in our cares and joys, as He had not done since the garden.

O shepherds, do you understand that you are seeing what Moses could not? O fishermen, do you realize that you are hearing what every generation of prophets would have given their lives to hear? Mary, Joseph, do you have any idea who you are raising? Anna and Simeon, Zacharias and Elizabeth; you who have waited all your lives for the Messiah, do you truly know what you are witnessing?

World, do you understand that the God of Judgment and Wrath has made Himself such that no one could possibly fear to come near Him? Our God, who is a consuming fire, has made Himself such that little children can play with Him and kiss Him and love Him.

Beautiful and frightening. Perhaps that little baby in the straw is more beautiful and frightening than anything we have seen yet.

The angels are singing, the prophets are rejoicing, a voice is calling in the wilderness. Somewhere, a tree is growing that will be made into a cross someday. Somewhere, a palm tree is preparing to give its fronds as instruments of worship for a king riding a donkey. Somewhere, someone is reading in Isaiah about a coming Messiah… and somewhere, a temple veil is getting ready to be forever torn. God has come down to meet us, to love
us, and to be one of us.

I can’t say I understand everything that has happened. I just know that the world will never be the same again.


This essay is an excerpt from my book Letters to a Samuel Generation: The Collection. Get it here. And … Merry Christmas!


Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash







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