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Reflections on The Advent Candle: Christ

December 24, 2020 | Jay T. Smith

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6 (NASB95)

The watch is over. The Magi from Persia and the shepherds from Bethlehem arrive at the manger, seeking the prophesied child. Guided by the star and announced by angels, Jesus is found by the world. Better yet, though, Jesus’ arrival is revealed to all of creation on this night.

This Jesus, also called Immanuel, “God with Us,” is born in the squalor of an animal stall, to a people who would eventually reject Him, and to a world that would crucify Him. And yet this birth, His life, and even His death would have cosmic meaning for all of creation.

God’s Arrival in an Out-of-Control World

In Jesus, God is reconciling all of creation to Himself. Jesus—the Christ, Son of God, Immanuel—is the arrival of God in the midst of an “out-of-control” world. The advent of Jesus quickly becomes the adventure of creation.

Jesus’ teaching, miraculous manifestation, and method of living is a challenge to the world that is disconnected from God. Jesus does not teach a complex theological formula for reconciliation. Rather, it’s a very simple message: “follow me.” What began in the manger thousands of years ago continues to call out to all of humanity: “follow me.” Indeed, the earliest description of this movement was “The Way.”

All this comes about because God chose to enter His creation on this night 2,000 years ago—no dogma, no doctrine as we understand it today. Jesus inaugurates “The Way”—a way of living that emphasizes love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. After Jesus’ death, a mere thirty-three years after He was born, He gave us a “way” so that we may continue to follow Him: believe. In our trust of Jesus, we participate in His life-giving Spirit who motivates us, empowers us, directs us, and allows us to experience and participate in the very essence—the LOVE—of God.

The Power of Love

The child in the manger is the very seed of God’s essence for us—pure, powerful, and undiluted agape love. In our lightning speed culture of consumption and marketplace morality, we often overlook the actual importance of the “theology” of Christmas. It is a celebration of life; God’s life in, for, and with us. Huey Lewis got it partially right in his 1985 pop hit, “The Power of Love”:

The power of love is a curious thing
Makes one man weep, makes another man sing
Change a hawk to a little white dove
More than a feeling, that’s the power of love

But even Huey Lewis’ description is but a shadow of what is made available to us in God’s love. God’s love is the power to change reality—to change the world for better. Celebrate this Christmas, for God’s pure love is looking up at you from the manger!

Jay T. Smith

President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Dr. Jay Smith leads the Yellowstone Theological Institute as its president. Dr. Smith has served as minister of youth, music and as senior […]

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