“A Catastrophe of Good”
Each of the Gospel writers has his own way of telling the Nativity Story. Mark skips it entirely and goes straight to the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, where we hear God himself declaring of Jesus, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Matthew and Luke are the ones who give us the details we’re used to hearing at Christmas—angels and shepherds, Mary and Joseph and the manger, and the declaration on which we reflected Christmas Eve, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
John has his own version of the Nativity, one that reaches backward to the words of creation in Genesis – “in the beginning was the Word…all things were made through him” – and upward into the eternal reality of who Jesus is – "and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” – and then downward into the life-altering mystery of God-made-flesh – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Or as Eugene Peterson puts it, “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”
From creation to eternity to incarnation. This is the full, true story of Christmas. The yearning and hope that is in every person and every culture in creation—which comes to the forefront during Advent and Christmas—has an object, has a fulfillment. A Comfort and a Call: Life with God. And God is so intent on giving us this life, that he entered fully into our humanity as Jesus to live with us and die for us that we might live with him and not die at all. I love how a writer named Skye Jethani puts it:
“We should not be surprised to discover that when God desired to restore his broken relationship with people, he sent his Son to dwell with us. His plan to restore his creation was not to send a list of rules and rituals to follow, nor was it the implementation of useful principles…. He did not send a genie to grant us our desires…, nor did he give us a task to accomplish. Instead God himself came to be with us – to walk with us once again as he had done in Eden in the beginning. Jesus entered into our dark existence to share our broken world and to illuminate a different way forward. His coming was a sudden and glorious catastrophe of good” (Jethani 101).
This is the Christmas Story, the Gospel Story, our Story. Our Comfort and Call. God wants you to be with Him. So he sent Jesus to be with you. Welcome him into your life.
Your Pastor in Christ,