From the Pastor’s Desk- December 2021

Dear friends in Christ at Trinity,
I have always liked Christmas, but I guess I must confess I’ve enjoyed it a little more since I’ve been a father.  Seeing Christmas glee in my children is a true joy.  All of the different things that come with this time of the year – Christmas lights, Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, Christmas songs, and I suppose I should not forget Christmas presents – make it a truly wonderful time of the year, even if it is cold and dark outside.
But all of those things can distract us from what it’s all about.  Rudolph, Santa, and “that gift you just need to have” can cause us to lose sight of the miracle.  I’d even argue that nativity scenes and Christmas hymns can disrupt our focus on exactly what a wonder Christmas is.
Colossians 2:9 provides an excellent starting point for understanding Christmas.  “In [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”  If you think to the initial creation of the cosmos, God creates all things.  But before creating creation, God exists.  He simply is.  And so, we might conceive of a sharp distinction between God and everything else.
And then there is this anomaly, found first in a womb in Nazareth and then in a stable in Bethlehem.  The angel Gabriel strikes at the heart of the matter in Luke 1:31-32: “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”  This name, Jesus, means “The Lord saves.”  We read also in Matthew 1:23 a quote from Isaiah then prophet, applied to Jesus: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  And on the night that He was born, the angel declared in Luke 2:11, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
The wondrous miracle is not so much that a baby was born, or even that this baby was born to a virgin mother, but that the sharp distinction that exists (God vs. everything else) is overcome.  God takes on human flesh.  “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).  We call this miraculous action of God “the Incarnation.”  One who spoke all things into being became part of “all things,” and more than that, experienced conception, birth, and infancy, among the weakest moments of our human existence.
But powerful individuals do silly things all the time.  The wonder of Christmas is amplified when you understand why Jesus does all of this.  There is a TV show called “Undercover Boss.”  On this show, executive-level members of a corporation go “undercover” as entry-level employees so they can learn more about what life is like on that level of their company.  What Jesus does is not an “Undercover God” situation.  He isn’t simply “hanging out in human flesh” so He can know what our life is like.  He already knows what life is like.  He knows the creation-corrupting results of human sin, and the unwelcome intrusion that death is.  He becomes incarnate to do something about these human maladies by experiencing them.  Jesus does not sin, but He does take our sin upon Himself.  “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and Jesus takes our sin upon himself so that He can take our death upon Himself.  All this to overcome sin and death, replacing them with His righteousness and with life!
The road to get to that point was not pretty.  This is the great miracle of Christmas.  The maker of all things becomes just about the weakest thing you can imagine for the purpose of enduring even greater weakness, all so that through this you might receive a great bounty.
Enjoy the lights, the songs, the cookies, the gatherings, even the gifts, but enjoy them in light of the greatest gift – the baby who is God made flesh to save is born for you!

Peace in Christ,
Pastor Lieske