By Rev. Kevin Nollette, Associate EP
The fingers in my left hand are starting to suffer from arthritis. It doesn’t bother me all the time but it is very annoying on a cold morning as I try to wrap my fingers around the steering wheel. On the “richter scale of human suffering” this doesn’t even rise to a .01 but it is an irregular annoyance to me.
What difference does this make you may ask? Well, it simply adds to my wonder that God would take on our flesh with all of its idiosyncrasies and annoyances bearing all of our grief and sorrows. Jesus’ birth, which we celebrate at Christmas entails not only the wonder and horror of the cross, but the whole of his life lived in all our human circumstance. From hunger, exhaustion, weariness, homelessness, loss, and even to the Cross, Jesus the Christ took on human flesh, human life for us.
I would gladly give up the minor annoyance of my stiff morning fingers. I marvel that Jesus took on all of these annoyances and more. As Philippians 2:1-11 reads;
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-- even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
What a challenge for us as believers.
So, one very cold morning this week I found waiting myself at an on ramp. There standing before me is a man about my age holding a sign. He sets the sign down to rub his cold, sore, and swollen fingers. I recognize the action, it is my own, and I remember, Jesus the Christ, took on his flesh too. He bore this stranger’s human infirmities as well as my own. Jesus took on his human flesh just as he did mine that Christmas so long ago. If there were ever any doubt about it who my kin are, in the incarnation, Christ made us kin one with another with all humanity. We may not be kin in faith, but we are kin in the skin and Jesus took on that same skin, human skin.
In this wonder there is a challenge, not just in this season when we remember the incarnation but a challenge for every day. Did we see kin in the eyes of all we met today? Did we see past the outward appearances and see in each one’s eyes the brother or sister of our savior?
This time of year fills me with wonder, and challenges me every day of my life. How do you, how does your church, enter into the wonder and respond to the challenge?