This Christmas I sit in our living room before heading to bed, typing out a festive blog post. The room feels and looks very ordinary: couches, pillows, television, computer, DVD’s, books and more. Life, most of the time, is ordinary.
Life is exciting and varied enough as it is. We don’t need too many sensational experiences. Highs come. We are property owners for the first time, and are excitedly settling into our new home. Lows follow. My beloved Grandpa passed away the day after my son’s 9th birthday. Even those highs and lows have an ordinary feel to them. The joy of a new dwelling to own, enjoy and remake is tempered by frustrations of having too many things, facing the financial and time cost of renovations, and more. The grief of losing a loved one didn’t fully negate the happiness of waking up Christmas morning to presents and pancakes.
The nativity narratives are laced with the spectacular, and awe-inspiring and the miraculous. Angelic epiphany. Prophetic insight. Virginal conception. It could be just me and my phase of life, but I’m drawn to imagine the lingering ordinary feel that life would have had for Elizabeth, the shepherds, Anna, the wise men, Mary and the others. Elizabeth’s formerly-barren womb would still be subject to the pain of giving birth. The shepherds, hurrying to Bethlehem after the angelic revelation, would have faced all of the familiar and mundane issues of getting themselves there. Mary, despite her exemplary encounter with the angelic messenger, would have three full trimesters of watching her body and womb swell and transform.
And all of this has a beautifully Jesus-shaped dynamic to it. For it is in Him that the spectacular resides within the everyday. Eternity meets time. God joins with humanity. Creator with creation. Word becomes flesh.
Nowadays I am more aware than ever of my simple need for God’s extraordinary strength in every ordinary moment. Highs and lows; strengths and weaknesses; progress and stumbles, what I need is always to open myself to the ordinary process of participating with the Power who makes me just a little bit better, moment by moment.
Watched Joyeux Noël again with my wife – a truly great film, based on true events of one of the WWI Christmas Truces.
Apparently, the Germans first decorated their trenches with Christmas trees, and belting out Christmas carols – the first/main one is thought to have been ‘Stille Nacht’ (Silent Night). This prompted some (English) carol singing from the British side. This led to more singing, coming out of their trenches and meeting and conversing with one another, exchanging of gifts (whiskey, cigars, chocolate, etc.), sharing a Communion Service together (!), helping one another bury their dead, football (‘soccer’) games, and various other acts of kindness.
It’s a tremendous story, and it’s worth your time reading some of the letters from the troops describing the events.
May peace rule our hearts!
Christmas season. The real doctrine that the Christmas season emphasises is the doctrine of the Incarnation. I’ve enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis’ ‘little book’ Miracles, written back in 1947. His chapter, ‘The Grand Miracle’ has some delicious passages on the Incarnation (my annoying notes in brackets). Continue reading “incarnation”
5 pounds, 3 ounces — born 4:18am Sunday, December 21, 2008 — 7 weeks pre-mature but his lungs are ‘catching up’ well — the tubes in this picture are feeding and breathing tubes — mum (for US people, this is equivalent to ‘mom’) is recovering great!
(update: more pics being added here!)
Continue reading “thomas isaiah campbell”
At the time of Christ’s birth, the angels said to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14) Isn’t that an amazing idea that God extended His good will in our direction? He did so in the very act of Christ taking on our flesh and dwelling among us (John 1:14). It’s the act of incarnation. Christ gave up the comfort and prestige of heaven and willingly chose to live a life filled with discomfort and mockery. Our Lord went through times of loneliness, being misunderstood, physical exhaustion, hunger, agony, pain and yes, death.
Christ knew from eternity what would come with His incarnation. This Christmas, perhaps we can recognize our calling to be like Christ in this way. We are called to go into the world in the same way Christ did. All too often Christians instead choose to live cozy lives of faithful church service attendance, Bible studies, and friendships with other believers. We are quite comfortable to speak to each other in Christian-ese and continually listen to our favourite style of worship music.
Of course, I’m not trying to devalue the utter importance of Christian fellowship. Quite the contrary. I’m just saying that our calling includes so much more than fellowship. We must go into the world. We must learn the language of the world. To do this we must risk being… uncomfortable. It means we don’t force people to listen to our stories until we’ve listened to theirs. The willingness to do this doesn’t come naturally, but super-naturally. May we have the courage of Christ in us to motivate us to sacrifice our comfort, reputations, productivity, lifestyle or anything else that is keeping us from fully answering our calling to be incarnational.