Christmas and the “U” word

By Pastor Greg Wooten
Hope Chapel Church of the Nazarene

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 I’m almost afraid to write anything. Before Easter I compared the covid crisis to a storm that would that would come and go and encouraged everyone to “shelter-in-faith” until it blew by. To my credit, I don’t think any of us thought we would be caught in a maelstrom the size and duration of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

Does anyone else feel like this season will never end? A better analogy, it seems, would have been to compare Covid-19 not to a storm or even a season, but an age (as in Ice Age).

So, you might understand if, with much fear and trembling, I call upon the same words that I wrote about eight or nine months ago – “this, too, shall pass.” We obviously don’t know how or when, but even the glaciers of the Ice Age receded into history.

Meanwhile, we press on through the fog of these ‘unprecedented’ days toward equally unprecedented holidays.

Don’t you wish you had a dollar for every time you’ve heard the word ‘unprecedented’ in 2020? I suppose that unless you are a centenarian who lived through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 these are exceptional days in our lifetimes. But the word ‘unprecedented’ indicates something that has never happened before. Sadly, pandemics – along with war, famine, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, and other grand-scale calamities – have been around since the day creation fell under the curse of death. Even the oft-ignored Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes affirms, “Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new?”

So why don’t we use the ‘u’ word in its proper sense? Let’s apply it to a truly one-of-a-kind happening in history.

Like God being born as a human being - not just appearing in some semblance of humanity, but embracing the full measure of human life with all its wonder and frailty.

Occupying a womb - risking the painful process of birth.

The Power responsible for the construction and maintenance of the universe becoming utterly dependent on the protection and provision of a human mother? That’s never happened before.

Living – Growing – Learning - coming to understand who He was (Is!) and why He was born.

The Greatest of All - humbling Himself among the least and embracing all sinful humanity as His family.

Even being willing to wash in the same dirty water they used to feebly symbolize their change of heart and life toward God and their fellow humans. That’s new, isn’t it?

Loving - Teaching - Urging - Correcting - leading people to look at their God with fresh eyes.

An immovable God - who would welcome the friendless sinner, touch the untouchable leper, forgive the repentant adulterer, sit at the table with the notorious, and personally dry the tears of the mourner. That’s especially unique.

Wrestling – Weeping, the Author of Life travailing in sweat and blood as He accepts the last and most crucial part of the mission that He came to accomplish – to die in a most humiliating and violent fashion at the hands of the humanity He loved so much.

The kind of love that can endure such undeserved hatred is truly, divinely, without equal.

Rising from the dead a few days later - escaping the tomb? That’s a feat not even the Great Houdini has been able to pull off. A complete novelty.

And he promised another advent, a coming day when He would not be born, but the whole groaning world would be re-born into unprecedented dimensions of peace and plenty, comfort and contentment, health and wholeness when He takes control of this globe gone wild. Can you imagine a world that will never again see the likes of 2020 with its pandemic, elections, riots and hurricanes?!?

There’s only one word in our language that comes close to adequately expressing all that Jesus is, has done, and will do – unprecedented!

How you celebrate Christmas may look substantially different this year, but why you celebrate – the unprecedented birth of the Son of God – can’t be touched by a virus. That’s more than enough reason to have a Merry Christmas!


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