The Word became flesh and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14
As we come closer to Christmas, we remember that glory of the birth of Jesus not that a baby was born in a stable, but that God came to earth, born in human form. As Paul quotes one of the earliest Christian hymns in his letter to the Philippians,
6Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit. 7But he emptied himself by taking the form of a slave and by becoming like human beings. When he found himself in the form of a human, 8he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
– Philippians 2:6-8
The theological term for this is incarnation. God took on flesh so that he could redeem us.
In the last generation or so, we have witnessed the world changing around us. Our Church Council is learning about this as we study Carey Nieuwhof’s book Lasting Impact. Our Healthy Church Initiative Team is learning more and more about this each time we attend a workshop. This leads to the important question, how can our congregation minister to a world that has changed from what we knew in the 1950’s and continues to change?
Perhaps one part of the answer can be found as we consider the idea of incarnation. Just as God came to a world that had turned away from him, perhaps we are called to be the Body of Christ to a world that no longer has the habit of attending church every Sunday of the year.
Churches that are being revitalized are finding out that engaging people and helping them become stronger in living out their faith is more important than dutiful attendance. This new idea of church is about being active in the world, instead of waiting for people to come inside our doors on Sunday morning.
Of course we’ve been hearing this “new” idea about the church for decades. Remember the Rethink Church initiative? (If you want to see this video again, visit www.umcfairmont.org/links) As we consider the incarnation of God into Jesus of Nazareth this Christmas season, let us consider our role of being the incarnation of the church into our community. Let’s not wait for persons to come into our church before we bless them, let’s meet them where they are!
Reggie McNeal writes in his book Missional Renaissance,
The role of the church is simply this: to bless the world. In doing this, the people of God reveal God’s heart for the world.
As we celebrate the incarnation of God in to the world this Christmas, let us be a blessing to others in the world!
May God Bless Us!