“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” John 1:14 KJV
I can recall a rather posh modern dance venue we went to see a long time ago. Just before the performance, we got a bit of a surprise. A hidden voice announced that the Governor General of Canada was in attendance. The voice asked us to please stand up while the right honourable Roméo LeBlanc made his way into the room to be seated. Great, I thought. He is going to pass by and give us the royal wave, or something equally impressive. We waited. Nothing happened. You could hear a pin drop. I think everyone else was maybe thinking what I was thinking. We stood... and stood. Suddenly the voice announced that it was OK to sit down again. Apparently, the Governor General had safely seated his royal behind in some hidden box seat out of view. We could now stop genuflecting. It annoyed me. I mean, why acknowledge a hidden dignitary who lacks the decency to reveal himself?
It made me think about the Incarnation. It is the point of theology whereby the hidden ruler shows his face to the masses. A God who comes down from that hidden box seat in the sky to rub shoulders with the regular folk. Really? It is not the first thing you would expect from an all-powerful God who owes us nothing.
But making contact is the very point. Emmanuel, God with Us, is the polar opposite to every other religion known to man. Instead of a methodology or a practise, we have a person. Instead of us seeking for a hidden God, he has come down in person to look for us.
God planting himself into the timeline of human affairs is also an exercise which is concrete in time. There is a point to things, a method, a logic. There is a trajectory of events and a destination which binds human beings with God’s purposes. We are participants as well as witnesses.
It is the grand meta-narrative of Christianity, the over-arching theme that drives the story. It is one of purpose and Jesus was not shy about revealing that purpose. He said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost”. (Luke 19:10)
God made Man is also a mission of peril. We know where that rescue mission ended up... on the Cross. Oddly, when the disciples tried to steer Jesus off this trajectory of events leading to his death in Jerusalem, Jesus rebuked them and told them that was the purpose for which he came. When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all others unto himself.
The book of Corinthians tells us: “He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And earlier in the same chapter, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17–18)
Fred Craddock tells the story of playing hide and seek as a child. What would happen if you hid yourself so well that once the street lights came on, no one has found you yet? Everyone wants to be found, really. It’s where divine purposes and the deepest needs of the human heart meet, the rescue mission that we call incarnation.