We have been delighted to have Karenza Mahtani write a series of Advent reflections for us over the past few weeks. Here’s the final one! Karenza is part of the Accessible Prophecy UK team. Art work is by Carolyn Higgins, another member of the team.
It’s Christmas! The time when we celebrate the person of Jesus, born in a stable – the hope of the world. We take time to reflect on the Incarnation – God taking on the form of a vulnerable baby, yet not losing any of his divine greatness in the process. Fully God and fully man. This profound mystery has beguiled Christians through the centuries and I invite you today to once again marvel in its simplicity and yet unending beauty.
Leo the Great said, “Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the incarnation. From the time when Christ came, the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, and the speech of kindliness diffused. A heavenly way of life has been implanted on the earth.” (Quoted in Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals).
Take a moment to ponder on this quote. The birth of Jesus is so much more than just the beginning of his life and ministry. It is the turning of the tide, the first glimpses of heaven come to earth. It changes everything! Spend some time now considering what this means for you today, as well as for all of mankind. Perhaps ask God if there is a particular part of the quote that he wants to highlight to you – ask him some questions about this.
Last week, we reflected on the ways it is easy to miss what God is doing because of the busyness and stress of life. Certainly, Christmas is a time when we can do this without realising. However, we know from the gospels that many could not receive Jesus as he was and thus could not accept that the promises and prophecies had been fulfilled in their day. Not only did this lead to them missing out on the joy experienced by the shepherds and Simeon and Anna, but also to them missing his entire ministry whilst on earth. Even amongst his own disciples, there were those who had looked for a Messiah very unlike the incarnated Christ that arrives as a baby. Some people wanted him be a human king, a political revolutionary who defeated the Romans and restored the nation to a former glory. From this perspective, we can understand why King Herod was so disturbed by the news of his birth from the wise men. Others wished him to be a moral reformer who brought “sinners” into line. Even simple things like where he grew up and who his parents were are subjected to scrutiny at various points in the gospels, as surely a Messiah could not come from that town, or be part of a carpentry business. Yet we also see those who, like most of his disciples, allow these ideas to be challenged and replaced with the glorious reality of who Jesus truly is.
Everyone brings their own expectations of what and who Jesus should or shouldn’t be. We do too, even if we have walked with him for decades. The joy and mystery of the incarnation is that the more you are captivated by the humility and love of a God who would come and walk amongst us, serving us and giving up all comfort to see us comforted, the more you want to see. The longer you want to look. The more captivating it all becomes. The more in love we fall, especially as we consider the physical smallness of a tiny baby, yet the overwhelming, all-encompassing greatness contained within this person: Immanuel, Jesus Christ, God with Us.
As you go off into your Christmas celebrations, take moments throughout the days to just marvel, to adore, to thank Jesus for all he is. Allow him to reveal more of his nature to you and allow yourself to be caught up in that divine love that comes and finds us, even in the most surprising ways.
As Advent comes to an end, I pray that the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the perseverance of the wise men, the obedience of Joseph and Mary, and the peace of the Christ child be yours this Christmas; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.