At this time of year, we are bombarded with images that nag at our attention, presenting us with the idea of the perfectly peaceful holiday and all the gifts that will truly satisfy us. Imagine, for a minute, loving something you’ve never seen. Even without fully understanding what you are loving, there is an ache and a hope for fulfillment, for completion, for wholeness. But what about loving someone you’ve never seen?
This is a concept mothers know well, feeling their babies move in the womb before ever seeing their faces. Perhaps this is what Mary felt for nine long months as her stomach grew, trying to make sense of the fact that the little flutters and punches were the first movements of the Son of the Most High.
For 2,000 years, God had revealed his presence in the various forms of smoke, fire, manna-giver, and cloud on a mountaintop. It was impossible—and forbidden—to attempt any picture or representation of him. He was invisible, unable to be whittled down to an image and unable to be comprehended by our human eyes.
True worship always holds God’s immanence and his transcendence in tension. Where can we conceive of that worship more than in his enfleshing, his incarnation? God in his grace made the invisible visible and chose to dwell among his people as one of us. But not only did the firstborn of the dead come in our fragile human form; he came as the weakest of us all—a newborn. God became a helpless creature in need of the most basic human requirements: being fed, clothed, and kept clean. It’s difficult to even imagine the fullness of God somehow fitting into a six-pound newborn. This infant was the mover at the beginning of creation, present before time began and preeminent in all things. In him—the babe who couldn’t hold his own head up—all things hold together. Jesus in the manger is an image we may not expect, but the God of humility, servanthood, and reconciliation is the one that we need.
But the story unfolds further; the image becomes clearer. In a feeble, tiny body, God was pleased to dwell. It was not his obligation or an inconvenience to reveal himself to us this way, but his pure pleasure. And even now, it continues to be God’s pure pleasure—his joy—to reveal himself, to give of himself even when he doesn't need to, to rule as a humble King, for our good and our joy. It is his delight to bring reconciliation, to restore the very creation he made in its edenic beginning and, yes, to lift the veil and make a way for us to see him face to face.
He is the image of the God we need—a God who exemplifies humility, servanthood, and pleasure in reconciliation. He holds all things together, from creation to the manger to the cross to the new creation.
Caroline Greb is a wife, mother, homemaker, fine artist and the Assistant Editor at Ekstasis Magazine.
This article is part of The Eternal King Arrives, a 4-week devotional to help individuals, small groups, and families journey through the 2023 Advent season . Learn more about this special issue that can be used Advent, or any time of year at http://orderct.com/advent.
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