We’ve probably all been bombarded with questions by small children at Christmastime: ‘What does Santa do the rest of the year? Why doesn’t his sleigh fall off the roof? Why can’t I open my presents ‘til Christmas Day?’
Recently, I was lucky enough to hear some very good Christmas (and other) questions from some primary schoolchildren. One of the most thought-provoking was this:- ‘Why did God bother?’
It could be applied to all sorts of situations: Why did God bother to make the world at all? Why did He bother to send prophets to warn people of His disfavour? And, most significantly this month, why did God bother to send His Son to a cynical world at Christmas (the Incarnation)?
On the face of it, it was a brave move. God’s people hadn’t listened to the prophets and hadn’t kept God’s commandments. Were they likely to listen to His Son, particularly a Son born to humble parents in an occupied country? And if God wanted to come to earth to be with us, yet knowing He would die here, why did He bother at all? A good question.
I think one answer lies in the purpose of the incarnation. A monk wrote ‘God became man, not so that He might be with us, but so that we might be with Him. In other words, the incarnation is the starting point of our becoming more divine, more God’s’.
And as we try to become ‘more divine’ we become more capable of working with Christ to rebuild the world to the glory of God.
The shepherds on the hillside were the first to hear the good news of Jesus’ birth. They were given two commands – ‘Come and see’ and then ‘Go and tell’. In the same way, we are not just passive bystanders at the incarnation as we hear the Christmas story. Jesus’ birth transforms both the history of the world, and the personal story of each one of us. We are therefore invited to measure up to God's plan and play our own proper rôle in it.
So this year at Christmas, let’s come and see and celebrate the birth of God’s Son, and then go and tell, by what we say and by what we do. The start of Jesus’ earthly life is also the start of our own story in Him, remembered and renewed each Christmas.
Why did God bother? He bothered because of you and each one of us, His precious children.
He bothered because He loves us and wants us to be close to Him.
Christmas is our time to accept His invitation and welcome Him.
May you be richly blessed this Christmas. Alex