The Gospel
of John compressed the Christmas story into a single and shimmering sentence:

“The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his
glory, the glory as of a father’s unique son, full of grace and truth.”’
No peasant
parents, singing angels, frightened shepherds, or worshipping wise men—not even
sleeping baby.  Instead, John went straight
for the meaning of Christmas: In Jesus of Nazareth, God became a human
being.  The God who made everything and
everyone lived an individual life, in a particular place, and at a specific
In Jesus,
God took on the constraints and possibilities of a completely embodied
life.    Jesus had the night-chill
cuddled away by Mary’s tender embrace; he felt sheltered and safe in Joseph’s
sinewy arms.   Jesus laughed when Mary
tickled his feet and shouted with glee when Joseph tossed him in the air.  He skinned his knees when he was learning to
walk.  He hit his thumb with a hammer
while working in his dad’s carpentry shop. 
As a teenager, he felt stabs of desire when a pretty girl smiled at
him.  He had headaches, suffered
indigestion, caught colds, and sweated through fevers.  He knew the frustration of an occasional
sleepless night, had leg cramps when he walked too long and too far, and knew
how hard it is to be kind when you’re worn-out.   He enjoyed food and wine, and also knew what
it was like to be hungry and thirsty. 
When he died, his strength was beaten out of him, his wrists and ankles
were ripped by nails and bound by ropes, a crown of thorns was pressed on his
head, a sword ripped open his side, and his blood flowed and oozed out of his
body and onto the ground.  And,
Christians believe that because the Word became flesh in Jesus, God experienced
all these very human things. 
With his
body, Jesus said and showed the good news of God’s love for us.  With his eyes, he saw the furrows of worry in
people’s faces, tear stains on their cheeks, downcast gazes, slumped shoulders,
dancing eyes, bright smiles, springing steps, and outstretched arms.  With his ears, he heard painful moans, lonely
cries, whispered questions, delightful laughter, songs of wonder, and shouts of
praise.  On his feet, he went to the
marginalized and estranged.  With his
arms, he embraced outcasts and welcomed sinners.  With his hands, he blessed children, restored
sight to the blind, and broke bread for the hungry.  On his knees, he washed the feet of his
friends.  With his mouth, he spoke words
of challenge and comfort. 
In the flesh
and blood of Jesus, the Word was in the world. 
Jesus is God’s own answer to the question “What are you like?”  In him, we hear from God about God.  The truth of Christmas is that God is like
Jesus.  I say again what I have said
often before: any image or concept of God, any feeling or conviction about God,
and any claim or statement on God’s behalf that is inconsistent with the
character and spirit of Jesus is not the truth about God.  And, there are so many misguided, fearful,
and twisted understandings of God, even among Christians. 
Jesus is
God’s self-portrait.  Jesus is what God
says, what God does, and who God is. 
Jesus makes it clear that God is not distant from us, but here with
us.  God dwells among us; God comes to us
wherever we are. 
Jesus shows
us that God is not vindictive and capricious, ready to pounce on us with
harshness and punishment.  Instead, God
comes to us in our failures, lifts us out of guilt, wipes the tears of shame
from our eyes, and tells us, as Jesus told a woman caught in the act of
adultery: “I do not condemn you; instead, go and sin no more.” 
In Jesus, as
Reynolds Price said, we hear spoken “that sentence all humankind craves from
stories: The Maker of all things loves and wants me” (Three Gospels, 177).  God became flesh in Jesus, so that we may
trust the goodness and love of God.