With Christmas a week away, and the question of where Christ fits in Christmas -- you know the whole "let's put Christ back into Christmas" thing. Or, the motto "Jesus is the reason for the season." These are nice sentiments, but what do we mean by this? In what way does Jesus define the season? And besides that, who is Jesus? Is he a nice man who said nice things? Is he God in disguise?
For Christians the person of Jesus Christ stands at the center of the faith. We may not all agree on the particulars, but we agree that in one fashion or another, Jesus stands at the center. Christians use a number of terms to describe his place in their faith tradition. For some Jesus is God's defining revelation. Some see him as the means of our redemption. Some see Christ as our priest and mediator. Some see him as teacher and as example. Tradition, as it reflects on Scripture, affirms that this one we name Christ or Messiah is both fully human and fully God. These concepts fall under the theological topic we call Christology, the study of Christ.
As we have drawn close to Christmas, we hear texts that speak of the one who is the Word of God incarnate -- God in the flesh (John 1:1-14 CEB).
- 1 In the beginning was the Word
- and the Word was with God
- and the Word was God.
- 2 The Word was with God in the beginning.
- 3 Everything came into being through the Word,
- and without the Word
- nothing came into being.
- What came into being
- 4 through the Word was life,
- and the life was the light for all people.
- 5 The light shines in the darkness,
- and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
- 14 The Word became flesh
- and made his home among us.
- We have seen his glory,
- glory like that of a father’s only son,
- full of grace and truth.
We also hear word of Emmanuel, "God with us."
18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “ Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. ” 22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:
- 23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
- And they will call him, Emmanuel.a
( Emmanuel means “ God with us. ” )
However we define these testimonies, they speak to the idea that God is in our midst, speaking to us, calling to us. So the question then is: what do we hear God saying to us in and through the one we call the Christ, the one scripture tells us was born in Bethlehem of Judea?