Incarnation Day (or is it Deific Invasion Day?)
Christmas is an interesting time of the year. A season where the generally overpowering force of Capitalist commercialization of all that is Good, True and Beautiful meets its match in a force so sublime, so pure, so alien that it can’t quite overpower is bound to be interesting. Complex. Often disheartening. Add into the mix the traditional reunion of family, the kitschiness that is the accumulated efforts of 2000 years of laity attempting to express the ecstasy that can come from Christmas, political overtones, other holidays and cultural practices and phenomena such as SAD and you’ve got a time that can just as easily send any one person to the heights of elation, the lows of depression or the numbness and scorn of cynicism, all things being equal. Christmastime, culturally and psychologically, is complex.
It’s often difficult to remember, and even harder to concentrate on, the kitschy, proverbial “Reason for the Season;” that Omnipotent God cast off the trappings of Godhood, wrapped Himself in flesh and mounted a solitary, Up-Side-Down invasion of Earth, not to destroy His enemies, but to redeem them.
Not to destroy us, His enemies who would nail Him to a cross, but to redeem us.
Oftentimes we stress and obsess over so much more that matter so much less. Those of us that consider ourselves more sophisticated than hoi polloi obsess over how messed up the season is and sometimes try to opt out of it because of its kitschiness and commercialism. Personally, I’ve been feeling a good deal more self-satisfaction than I have a right to at having bought a few presents, wrapped them and stuck them under an up-rooted tree with a decent amount of thought for the recipients and plenty of time to spare.
What wretches we are.
Sometimes we need to see things anew. I find that some Christmas carols don’t have their best, most impactful verses come first. That may be an artistic decision on the authors’ parts, or it may be that, having heard them all our lives, we’ve become inoculated and inured to them. Either way, below are some excerpts of verses of two hymns that I think can help remind us of just what we’re celebrating. Feel free to research more you think are jarring and Christocentric enough and post them below in the comments.
Christ by highest heaven adored- Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel
Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth
In his very nature he was God.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something he should hold on to.
Instead, he made himself nothing.
He took on the very nature of a servant.
He was made in human form.
(Philippians 2:6,7, NIRV)
Of course, even attempts to wake ourselves from our apathy and cynicism, our materialism and inability to remember that God are old hat during Christmas time. We try to do this every year, and we become inured and inoculated even to this. What wretches we are. What wretches we are!
But that’s kind of the point, right? The point of Christ’s coming is that we are such wretches that we needed Christ to come. What love! What love for God to cast off His attributes and deign to not only save us, but to live among us, to be subject to us!
Yeah, Christmas is awesome.