Celebrating Christmas in Flesh and Deeds
Penned By: ShirleyL
Speaker: Rev Joe Pang
Scriptures: John 1:14; Matt 19: 16-22
Yes 25th December is not the actual date when Jesus was born, but this is a day for Christians worldwide to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ together. It is a time of celebration of someone’s life – just as we celebrate our friends’ birthdays and our own birthdays. By celebrating, we are actually saying that this life is worth celebrating for, that I have a connection and a relationship with this life which has a welcoming impact on my own life. At BMCC, when we gather to celebrate someone’s birthday, we all say a word of thanks to this person — what does her/his life mean to us, what has changed by knowing her/him for us. How then, do we celebrate Jesus’s birthday? Do we have a relationship with him? What would you say to Jesus at his birthday?
Today at the third week of Advent, let us reflect through the passage chosen.
We Have Seen His Glory: what does it mean to have seen his glory? That means we have seen him, we know him, we have a relationship with him.
Word Became Flesh and Made His Dwelling Among Us: Jesus is not something far away, rather, by becoming flesh and dwelling among us, he has made himself available for us – he is touchable, warm, alive, and responsive to our interactions with him. He lives among us, when we talk to him, he is responsive, and through these connections, our lives could be transformed. He does not become flesh to fulfill our needs, rather he is here to liberate us. Our needs could only be fulfilled after we have been liberated from the chains of these needs.
λογος: He Lives Life Out. A Path
John 1:1 tells us that the beginning was the Word. This “Word” in Greek is λογος, a path, a living out. Before I became a Christian, I practiced many other faiths, and I discovered that these were more like a set of rules, or doctrines: what should one do and what not. But Jesus is different. He became flesh. He lives out the faith. He expresses his faith through action, and his life has an impact on others and the environ. As we approach Jesus’s birthday, we also need to live out the truth of Christmas. Do we live out our faith? Or are we Christians by our lips only? Are you an incarnate Christian, like Jesus was?
In Matt 19:16-22, we see a young man who approached Jesus regarding eternal life. By asking Jesus for advice, this young man already has a relationship with him and he has faith that his answer would be of help to him. Yet, when Jesus answered him, he did not follow his advice. (I bet this reflects the lives of many of us here, myself inclusive!) So what was Jesus’s reply? The original response in v17 was very simple: keep the commandments. Jesus then elaborates in v18-19. We can categorize these actions into two broad categories: outwards, what we do to others (do not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, honor one’s father and mother, love neighbor) and inwards, what we do to ourselves (love oneself). The young man then boasted that he already complied with all these. He challenged Jesus. In response, Jesus gave him the ultimate step: sell all that he had, give them to the poor and follow him. It is easy to follow a set of rules, but when asked to live out the principles, the young man found this requirement too daunting and walked away sadly.
Do we live out these two principles in our lives? Who are the poor? In the old times, the poor was despised and at the margins of the society. Today, apart from the poor, those who are marginalized included also the LGBT community, the refugees, women, and many many more. At BMCC, we summarize these in two words: Love and Justice. How do we become flesh and are we available to these people? Jesus asked the young man to sell his possessions — this refers not only to our money, but also our car, our flats,… everything. In fact, if we say that we are in possession of these items, we are stealing from Jesus – for everything is a gift from God. We have possession of these things only under the capitalistic economic regime. In the spiritual realm, all these belong to God. Jesus did not ask for our immediate perfection, instead, it is a disposition, a goal, a willingness, a direction that we head towards.
Jesus’s incarnation is an invitation for you, his follower, to become incarnate to yourself and to those around you.