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Advent Devotional 2021 – Christmas Day

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we long to know yet more of your boundless love and grace. Beyond the written word we seek the living Word, Jesus. Reveal to us by Your Spirit the glories of Your incarnate Son so that we might more perfectly love and follow Him. Amen

REFLECTION

For in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him.
Colossians 2:9-10a

“Look at His tiny fingers!” “See His little mouth!” “And His nose, His teeny scrunched up nose!” “And He looks so red!” “He looks anything but a king to me, a messiah.” God makes His appearance on earth as a fragile, helpless, cooing baby. “Cribb’d, cabined, and confined within the contours of a human infant. The infinite defined by the finite.”

(Madeleine L’Engle, The Irrational Season)

Birth is a breathtaking, traumatic experience. A baby has to be just small enough to escape the womb and big enough to survive outside the womb. The eternal Son of God takes on human flesh as the most vulnerable, defenseless person imaginable. He is born to poor, young, traveling parents, surrounded by barnyard creatures, soon to be threatened by a tyrannical king. The fragility, the dependency of this tiny baby speaks to the mystery of this day and the Incarnation. “For God it is just as natural to be lowly as it is to be high, to be near as it is to be far, to be little as it is to be great… It is His sovereign grace that He wills to be and is amongst us in humility, our God, God for us.” (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, IV/1).

This little one, sleeping on straw, is really God. For the infinite God to so empty and humble Himself is not a loss of deity, but the clearest and eloquent expression of it. God was never acting more like God than He did in the manger. This is God! His cradle and cross reveal it: God would rather die than live without you! God humbly presents Himself to us at Christmas, risking everything to be loved by us.

In today’s scripture, the apostle Paul reaffirms the mystery of God binding heaven to earth as the fullness of deity became incarnate and dwelt among us. Here is the wondrous union of the divine and human natures in the one person of Emmanuel, ‘God with us’.

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul carefully chooses language to say that the fullness of “deity” (theotetos) dwelled in Christ’s body. The Greek word, theotetos, denotes the very essence and nature of the Godhead. It tells us that Jesus is not merely God-like, but is God in the fullest sense. Jesus is deity in its entirety, perfect God, co-equal with the Father. There is not one fullness of the Father and another of the Son, but one and the same deity in both. This means that Jesus can say, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). Jesus is the Word who was in the beginning with God, and was God (John 1:1). Earlier in this Colossian letter Paul can say that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 14:9).

Today’s scripture reveals that as the “whole fullness of deity dwells” in Jesus, so we “come to fullness in him.” The fullness in Christ Jesus becomes our fullness. By faith we are united with Him so that we actually partake of the fullness of the divine nature (Ephesians 3:19; 2 Peter 1:4). John writes about this in his gospel: “From his fullness we have received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). We have everything we need for salvation, for life in this world and the next. We are in a living participation in the fullness of God.

On this Christmas Day, we celebrate the fullness of the divine nature dwelling in Jesus’ body from His birth to His ascension to glory. There, Jesus reigns in a glorified human body and will return to earth in that body (Acts 1:11). And when we see Jesus revealed in glory, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). He does not want to be God without you and me!

WORSHIP

“O, for a sight, a blissful sight

Of our Almighty Father’s throne!

There sits the Savior crowned with light,

Clothed in a body like our own.

Adoring saints around Him stand,

And thrones and powers before Him fall;

The God shines gracious through the Man,

And sheds sweet glories on them all.”

Isaac Watts

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