by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020
Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas
To encounter Christ in the manger is to encounter God Himself. True God from true God. Begotten, not made. Consubstantial with the Father. Through Him all things were made. King of kings. Lord of lords. The Word who became Flesh and made His dwelling among us. This Baby remains simultaneously God. Equal to Father and yet choosing to be subservient to Father.
Yes, Jesus in His birth is manifesting love for God and humanity already. Love. The core attribute of God is love, which is exhibited fully and perfectly in Jesus’ action for Father and humanity simultaneously. By Jesus humbling Himself to be born. To walk out the assignment God-love required. All this to be the instrument through which God executed His supreme rescue, freedom and citizenship plan. Jesus always remaining fully God to become fully human.
Jesus emptied Himself before we loved Him back and became God visible to us who died for us in this love and as this love, doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. God’s chosen tool. An empty vessel through whom God’s will flowed. Emptied. Emptied of self. In this place where it would not be easy or simple. Where there would be no glory for Him. No accolades. No acknowledgment. Measured in human terms, He would be labeled a misguided failure. Even a rabble-rouser.
Emptied. In the manger. Unseen. Small. Vulnerable. As angels surrounded Him, Jesus put Himself into the hands of the ones He created. The ones who would misunderstand, mistreat and ultimately kill Him. For love. In pain. For truth. For God revealed. The Light was coming into the world. He came to what was His own and they did not know Him. They did not want Him as He was.
Jesus. Son of God and Son of man. In the fullness of time. Not in a palace so that people might know. Not promoting His own plan so people would elevate Him or so He could get the credit. Obscure. Poor. Seemingly insignificant.
And it was blessed. His abject obedience, benefiting not just those in His time, but in every generation.
It is in our smallness—in the awareness of our not-enough-ness and what is not or no longer—that we finally meet Jesus at the manger. We begin to see Him as He is. We have been emptied of what mattered before by what life has become. What it now is. We are confronted with the vastness of God and the confounding of the manger. In this paradox also is our hope.
Christmas stripped of what we thought it was is a tool God uses to empty us. Like a potter’s sculpting knife which can seem merciless, He cuts away all the excess to reveal the true form (purpose and reason) of Christmas. This in turn forms our hearts. We are blissfully molded by the gracious revelation of Christmas more into the image of our Savior—who is our God-intended home. Shaped. Conformed. Until emptied of what was, we want more what He wants, which finds its Source in Father’s own heart.
How is He calling you today? What is He longing to help you empty out? How will you ensure as He calls, you are ready to just go and spend time with Him at the manger. Emptied and ready to receive. To be filled by Him.
Lord, I cannot see You. In the midst of this mess, I keep losing Your view. Continue to strip away all that hinders me so that I can follow hard after You. Lead on and bring me up and out to a more level place where I can see with Your view again—for this will be life for me and show me the way step-by-step through this dark place until it is well lit by You, the Light of the world. By Your grace, You empty me. There are no grand thoughts. Only the choice to be here empty with You. I am weak from the battle and know You are the answer. I believe You are working. I know You must answer and yet it is all invisible. Visible was Your love, Jesus. Visible was Your move. Yet, invisible the fullness of it. My trust is in You. You are all that I have.
5 Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:]
6 Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not [c]think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped [or retained,
7 But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
8 And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
Philippians 2:5-8 AMPC
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