Sunday, December 24, 2017

You Won't Find 'Emptiness' On a Christmas Card

I forget that the story of Christmas is a story of humility.

He made himself nothing....being made in human likeness.

God With Us--Emmanuel.  But what did that require?

He emptied himself.  
He humbled himself.

The God who flung planets into space and kept them whirling around and around, the God who made the universe with just a word, the one who could do anything at all--was making himself small.  And coming a baby.  (Sally Lloyd-Jones)

It's incomprehensible.  I can't come close to grasping who God is, so how can I begin to understand what he gave up?

The more I become aware of his sacrifice, the more I wonder why I so easily consume the world's delicacies:  The highest ideal is your own self-fulfillment.  Anything goes as long as you don't hurt anyone else.

The problem is that self-fulfillment almost always does hurt someone else.  It's simply not possible to love myself and love others at the same time.  And in trying, I find neither.  

Love, Joy, Peace, Hope--these are the words we find on Christmas cards.  We forget, though, that none of that would have been possible without humility.  Emptiness.  These are not words that are often used at Christmas, yet just as important.

We want the love and the joy, but without the cost.  We want peace and hope, but on our own terms.  It doesn't work that way.

Of course, God is not a kill-joy.  He is all about joy.  He is the essence of love.  But as we frantically fight after fulfillment, popping pills and climbing the corporate ladder and swiping credit cards and fruitlessly trying to keep our bodies young, we forget that the way of joy and love is found through emptiness.  

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

So why then do we strive so hard after strength?

When I fail, why should I be bothered by humiliation?  When I am inadequate, why should I try to hide it?  Why should there be shame in weakness?  Being brought low is the path to joy.  Emptying myself for others is the way of true love.  

That baby, lying in the manger, represents a lot of things.  But for me, this year, he is a reminder of humility.   

Blessed are the poor in spirit 
        for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Tanzania's "Christmas Trees" which burst into bloom every December.
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