Shout praises to the Lord!
Everyone who serves him,
come and praise his name.
Let the name of the Lord
be praised now and forever.
From dawn until sunset
the name of the Lord
deserves to be praised.
The Lord is far above
all of the nations;
he is more glorious
than the heavens.
No one can compare
with the Lord our God.
His throne is high above,
and he looks down to see
the heavens and the earth.
God lifts the poor and needy
from dust and ashes,
and he lets them take part
in ruling his people.
When a wife has no children,
he blesses her with some,
and she is happy.
Shout praises to the Lord! (Contemporary English Version)
It is appropriate, as we approach the Nativity of our Lord in just a few days, that we acknowledge and celebrate Christ’s incarnation by using today’s psalm.
Believers everywhere serve a God who is attentive to humanity. Although high and transcendent above all creation, the Lord carefully observes the plight of people. And God determines to do something about it. God breaks into the human experience by becoming human.
In the New Testament, the Apostle John frames this movement from heaven to earth in this way:
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish. (John 1:14, The Message)
This grand descending to earth plumbed the very depths and despair of humanity.
In the largest cities of the world, like Mexico City, Mexico and Manilla, Philippines, there are huge garbage dumps that cover several square miles. On top of these heaps of waste there live hundreds of families who have made this their home.
Each day they send their kids out to forage for scraps so they can have something to eat and survive. Few others tread where these families are. Yet, there are Christian believers who make the journey and try to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to such a place.
As incredible and sad a situation that this is, it doesn’t compare to the journey from heaven to earth that Jesus made. God became flesh, Christ descended to earth and came to the sin-soaked dump of this world – to us who were living on a heap of garbage – and entered our lives to save us from our wretched and pitiable condition.
God’s generosity in sending the Son was a gracious and cataclysmic entry to this earth on our behalf. It’s as if Jesus moved into the garbage dump and was born on the heap of waste so that God might be present with us.
Jesus did not just appear to be human, but actually became like us and lived with all the same things we face from day to day. He “tabernacled” with us, using the imagery of God’s presence with the ancient Israelites. God is with us!
Jesus interacted with the families in the dump. God was coming to save the people. he way to reach people, who are so concerned for scurrying about their business and trying to survive apart from God, is through the incarnation – both through testifying to what God has done in Christ, and through being sent, we ourselves, as little incarnations of entering into people’s lives.
We are like the moon, not producing light ourselves, but in the middle of darkness, reflecting the light of the sun so that the earth may know that Jesus is coming.
The mystery of the incarnation is that Jesus became human and lived among us.
May we believe.
May we know there is a Deliverer.
May we rejoice and be glad in this reality, and may it move us to be used of God to save those on the sin heap of this world.
May the poor and needy be lifted up.
May you have a blessed Christmas and enjoy peace with God and others in this next year.
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.