He became one of us

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God has not kept himself immaculately sterilized in some hermetically sealed Heaven. He is not some huge Ego stubborning clinging to his distant invulnerable Majesty, refusing to give an inch. No, he became one of us literally sweating, thirsting, suffering—even to the point of being loaded down with our sins, even to the point of dying.

–Mike Mason

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When Love stooped

the-birth-fo-jesus-by-carl-heinrich-blochLove that goes upward, from
the heart of man to God, is adoration. Love that goes outward, from one heart to another, is affection. But love that stoops is grace and God stooped to us. This is the most stupendous fact of the universe. It reveals to us that our God is love.

–Donald Grey Barnhouse

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Painting: Carl Heinrich Bloch

Not following a code

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It is not said in the Book,
“The Word became printer’s ink,”
but it is said,
“The Word became flesh.”
Had the Word become printer’s ink,
we should have followed a code.
Instead our code is a Character.
We follow a living mind
instead of a fixed letter.

–E. Stanley Jones
(1884 – 1973)

Grace upon grace

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“From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

The achievements of the Saviour, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves.  For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in.

–St. Athanasius
(296 – 373)

Image: Tim Curtis

The shocking affirmation

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Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside of the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Published in: on 12/27/2013 at 4:26  Leave a Comment  
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Crossing the Chasm

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When we did not want God, God wanted us. When we would not come to God, he came to us. When we resisted him, he plotted to win us. When we could not cross the chasm that separates creation from deity, God decided to cross it and become one of us. He would not give up his deity, rather, he would unite divinity and humanity in a single person so that God and humans would really meet and become one.

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

When God drew near

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On a wintry night
in an obscure cave,
the infant Jesus was
a humble, naked,
helpless God who
allowed us to get
close to him.

–Brennan Manning

Image: Michael Dudash

He walked among us

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The incarnation
does not mean some
abstract doctrine
about the intersection
of eternity and time;
the incarnation means
that God stepped
in our manure.

–Peter Kreeft

Ongoing astonishment

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Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said; “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens
and earth
Be born here, in this place?”
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler
rooms of our hearts
and says, “Yes,
let the God of Heaven and Earth
be born here….
in this place.

-Leslie Leyland Fields

Image: Michael Dudash

Incomprehensible

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You can more easily
catch a hurricane in a shrimp net
than understand the wild, relentless,
love of God made present
in the manger.

–Brennan Manning

Image: Michael Dudash

The preposterous idea

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If you do not hear in the message of Christmas something that must strike some as blasphemy and others as sheer fantasy, the chances are you have not heard the message for what it is. Emmanuel is the message in a nutshell, which is Hebrew for “God with us” . . . because the claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy.

–Frederick Buechner
Emmanuel

Image: Anton R. Mengs

Redefining God

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Christmas calls 
for a total revolution 
in our view of God.

–Glen Scrivener

The unorthodox God

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The who of the incarnation is perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all. That is, this baby is Immanuel, God with us. He is not just some divine ambassador. He is God: God in the flesh. But if so, what an unexpected God! He does things that God really ought not do. We all know perfectly well that God belongs on a throne, not in an animal’s feeding trough. But he seems not to be aware of such protocols.

–Mike Reeves

Image: Antoine Le Nain

 

Invaded by God

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The Gospel is not an academic discussion of truth—a set of doctrines about life, but an interpretation of “things” (Lk. 1:1) . . . Some “things” had happened on this earth that had never happened before—our planet has been invaded by God—redemptively invaded. That is the biggest and most decisive “thing” that has ever happened or can happen on this planet. . . .

This is cosmic news—the Good News,
that will make every planet, every cell,
every thing dance with joy
at the wonder of it.

Of all the things that have happened, or could happen this is the thing . . . the Central Cosmic Fact: God appeared on a little planet to take us by the hand and put us back on the Way. This is news—Good News—comparatively speaking, the only Good News that every reached our planet.

–E. Stanley Jones

Image: Maxime Courty

One of us

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For not only have
human beings been made
in imago Dei, like unto God,
but He also has
not been ashamed
to become one of us,
to be incarnate
in imago homini.

–Mike Mason

Published in: on 12/15/2013 at 20:04  Leave a Comment  
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A down to earth God

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The doctrine of the Incarnation means that God has come right into the midst of the tumult and the shouting of this world. In the most literal sense, it was a “down to earth” realism that gave the Gospel birth. Therefore to separate Christianity from social concern is to corrupt it at its roots; in the strong language of the apostle, it is to “make God a liar.”

When Jesus was born of Mary in the stable at Bethlehem, when He toiled at a carpenter’s bench in Nazareth, when He walked the crowded ways and lovingly identified Himself with the struggles and the miseries of men, when He suffered under Pontius Pilate, it was a declaration that divine eternal truth and the tough concrete actualities of the human situation belong together; and “what God hath joined together let not man put asunder.” It is an unholy divorce those Christians are aiding and abetting who separate “spiritual” religion from such “material” issues as feeding the hungry, rescuing the refugee, and enfranchising the racially disinherited.

–James Stewart
A Faith to Proclaim

Image: Emil Nolde

A character in his own plot

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“And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us . . . “
John 1:14

The man on the cross was a man of flesh, but he was also the WORD made flesh, as John writes it in the great prologue to his Gospel, the Word that ‘became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.’ The Creator himself comes to dwell within his own creation, the Eternal within the temporal, the Invulnerable within the wound.

It is as if Shakespeare could somehow have entered the world of Hamlet, say, the dramatist descending from the infinite dimensions of reality into the dimensionlessness of his own drama, becoming a character in his own plot although he well knows the tragic denouement and submitting himself to all its limitations so that he can burst them asunder when the time comes and lead a tremendous exeunt by which his whole dramatis personae will become true persons at last.

–Frederick Buechner
The Faces of Jesus

Too good for words

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Why would Jesus do this? Why would he stoop to become human? He had no need of this. He has forever known his Father and enjoyed his Father’s full attention and affection. He has forever shared the concert of life with his Father in the Spirit. Why would he take the time and pain of earthing this fellowship of life? Why would the Triune God do such a thing? Was it because of some deficiency in their fellowship? Was it because of boredom? Of course not! The only reason to earth and humanize this eternal home-life was to share it, with us. As one of the ancients put it, Jesus became “what we are that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself” (St. Irenaeus). Is this not too good for words?

–Baxter Kruger
Home

Image: Maxime Courty

Heaven in pursuit

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He pursued humanity
to such an extent that
His feet landed on earth . . .
and he chased after us
until He rescued us
at the cross.

–Mary DeMuth

Published in: on 12/12/2013 at 5:09  Leave a Comment  
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What we were made for

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The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ . . . If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose . . . It is the only thing we were made for. And there are strange, exciting hints in the Bible that when we are [fully] drawn in, a great many other things in Nature will begin to come right. The bad dream will be over: it will be morning.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

Image: link

On the ground spirituality

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By accepting Jesus as the final and definitive revelation of God, the Christian church makes it impossible for us to make up our own customized variations of the spiritual life and get away with it. Not that we don’t try. But we can’t get around him or away from him: Jesus is the incarnation of God, God among and with us. Jesus gathered God’s words spoken to and through God’s people and given to us in our scriptures and spoke them personally to us. Jesus performed God’s works of healing and compassion, forgiveness and salvation, love and sacrifice among us, men and women with personal names, with personal histories.

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Because Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, gathered disciples in Galilee, ate meals in Bethany, went to a wedding in Cana, told stories in Jericho, prayed in Gethsemane, led a parade down the Mount of Olives, taught in the Jerusalem temple, was killed on the hill Golgotha, and three days later had supper with Cleopas and his friend in Emmaus, none of us are free to make up our private spiritualities; we know too much about his life, his spirituality. The story of Jesus gives us access to scores of these incidents and words, specific with places and times and names, all of them hanging together and inter-penetrating, forming a coherent revelation of who God is and how he acts and what he says.

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Jesus prevents us from thinking that life is a matter of ideas to ponder or concepts to discuss. Jesus saves us from wasting our lives in the pursuit of cheap thrills and trivializing diversions. Jesus enables us to take seriously who we are and where we are without being seduced by the intimidating lies and illusions that fill the air and trying to be someone else or somewhere else.

Jesus keeps our feet on the ground, attentive to children, in conversation with ordinary people, sharing meals with friends and strangers, listening to the wind, observing the wildflowers, touching the sick and wounded, praying simply and unself-consciously. Jesus insists that we deal with God right here and now, in the place we find ourselves and with the people we are with. Jesus is God here and now.

–Eugene H. Peterson
Why Spirituality Needs Jesus

 

Embracing the wild wonder

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What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God’s love, a love we don’t even have to earn.

–Madeleine L’Engle

When God says, “Me too”

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Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, “God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.”

The cross is God’s way of taking away all
of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too.”

–Rob Bell
(emphasis added)

 

Published in: on 05/11/2013 at 4:39  Leave a Comment  
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The Great Invasion

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On earth a baby was born,
a king got wind of it,
a chase ensued.
In heaven the Great Invasion
had begun, a daring raid
by the ruler
of the forces of good
into the universe’s
seat of evil.

–Philip Yancey

Turning point

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The hinge of history
is on the door
of a Bethlehem stable.

–Ralph W. Sockman

He cannot be kept out

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If the incarnation teaches us anything, it’s that God can be found everywhere: in a cattle trough, on a throne, among the poor, with the sick, on a donkey, in a fishing boat, with the junkie, with the prostitute, with the hypocrite, with the forgotten, in places of power, in places of oppression, in poverty, in wealth, where God’s name is known, where it is unknown, with our friends, with our enemies, in our convictions, in our doubts, in life, in death, at the table, on the cross, and in every kindergarten classroom from Sandy Hook to Shanghai.

God cannot be kept out.

–Rachel Held Evans

Published in: on 12/19/2012 at 9:13  Leave a Comment  
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DID EVER . . . ?

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Did ever one so high come so low?
Did ever one so great become so small?
Did ever one so strong become so vulnerable?
Did ever one so awesome become so unassuming?
Did ever one so glorious become so humble?
Did ever one so divine become so human?
Did ever one so mighty become so weak?

Did ever one so rich become so poor?
Did ever one so majestic become so meek?
Did ever one so holy become so approachable?
Did ever one so wonderful become so unpretentious?
Did ever one so sublime become so accessible?
Did ever one so far removed come so near?
Did ever one so good become so dear?

“…Is not this the Christ?” (John 4:24)

–Jurgen Schulz

The miraculous entry

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The Incarnation would be
equally a miracle however
Jesus entered the world.

–P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921)

When God came down

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Jesus Christ,
the condescension of divinity,
and the exaltation of humanity.

–Phillips Brooks (1835 – 1893)

Published in: on 12/14/2012 at 21:17  Leave a Comment  
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The Word is a Person

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The Word became flesh
not paper and leather.

–Don Keathley

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