Holding onto the Divinity of Jesus
Now it is truly winter, our season of celebration is about to begin. We have lots of great events to look forward to: ‘Christingle Services’ at Ludgvan & Perranuthnoe, the lighting of many Christmas trees and ‘The Christmas Tree Festival’ at Marazion, many, many Carol Services and Nativity Presentations in churches, school halls and pubs to enjoy, as well as our own preparations, card, food and present-buying to accomplish by December 25th.
In recent years much stress has been placed in theological circles on the ‘humanity’ of Jesus: ‘He was just an ‘ordinary’ baby, born to an unmarried teenage mother, in a cold, out-house stable’. Indeed, the birth of the Christ-child prefigures and sanctifies the coming of all new human life into the world (in whatever circumstances – however ‘poor’ or ‘mean’ or ‘lowly’) and the Nativity Story provides us with a template for our own private ‘nativities’: how many grandparents have not made long journeys bearing gifts to welcome a new child into a family?
However, all our ‘coo-ing’ and ‘aaah-ing’ at Nativity plays and Children’s Services of Light should not lull us into a feeling that we are just welcoming ‘another’ baby into the world: Jesus is not an ‘ordinary’ baby: he is the Divine ‘Son of God’, the ‘True Light’, ‘The Word made Flesh’ as the opening Chapter of St John’s Gospel informs us. John, Chapter One will surprise us once again as it is read out at many Carol Services in the Christmas Season and as it elucidates the sheer scale, grandeur and poetic vision of Who it is we are celebrating coming to us at Christmastime: the Christ-child is the pre-existent ‘Word of God’, who has been with us since the dawn of time, he is our God made human, come amongst us.
The wonder of God trapping himself in human form is enough to behold, but Jesus comes into the world not only with a need to be loved and cuddled and provided with a ‘baby-grow’ (he gets ‘swaddling bands instead!): the Christ-child comes to us with a challenge. As we read the predictions of the prophets Isaiah, Zephaniah and Malachi in the Advent lead-up to Christmas we learn how Jesus comes with ‘the zeal of the Lord of Hosts’ to challenge rulers and to judge the world, ‘to bring down the Mighty from their seat’ (Luke 1:52) and bring in and establish his reign of justice, righteousness and peace: the prophet Isaiah tells us the Messiah is ‘Mighty Counsellor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).
In all our joyful Christmas celebrations let us keep hold of the majesty of the Event we are celebrating: God coming to be made with us in the Christ-child, to bring challenge and Light to ‘the principalities and powers’ of this ‘present darkness’ and this ‘passing age’ (Ephesians 6:12), to establish his rule of justice, mercy and peace forever.
I very much hope to see you over the Christmas period, (and, not forgetting, our celebrations in the Benefice continue in January, with the Celebration of St Hilary Feast on 15 January, Ludgvan Feast on 22 January and Candlemass on 29 January).
May all your own preparations and celebrations go well and may your hearts be made ready this Advent to welcome Jesus, the Divine Son of God.
Revd Nigel Marns
Rector, The United Benefice of Mounts Bay
(Ludgvan, Marazion, St Hilary & Perranuthnoe)