The Parish of Burchetts Green

He walked where I walk

He stood where I stand

He felt what I feel

He understands

So begins one of my favourite, more modern Christmas songs, 'God with us', written by Graham Kendrick. For me the song encapsulates an essence of the 'incarnation' (God taking on a human body and nature, Jesus being both man and God) in that God is not remote, utterly beyond or unknowable, but has revealed himself in terms that we can comprehend and in doing so has experienced what it is like to be human - 'he understands'.


Mind-blowing

The idea that God could take on human form, so familiar to us and sentimentalised in so many nativity scenes, is, when we really think about it, totally mind-blowing. Filming in Nazareth outside the Church of the Annunciation (the traditional site where Mary receives the news from an angel that she is to bear a son to be called Jesus, the Son of the Most High), presenter John Dickson comes across a large banner outside the church. It bears these words from the Koran: 'Allah, the Eternal, Absolute, He begetteth not nor was He begot ten. And there is none like unto Him.'


Dickson sees this as a piece of Islamic commentary on the idea of incarnation; God entering into his creation.  For many Muslims and others, the notion of God's majesty excludes the idea that God could enter into the world and become a man.

The Rev'd Keith Nicholls writes about

Rev Keith

It is seen as illogical and blasphemous. But for Christians, God's majesty is encapsulated in the idea that God would become a servant and give himself for us.


He humbled himself

St Paul, quoting what most scholars believe to be an early Christian creedal statement, puts it like this: '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.'


The Christmas story teaches us that God is not 'up there' and beyond reach, but has been here, and by his Holy Spirit, is with us in the here and now. In Matthew's Gospel Jesus' last words are these, "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."


God with us, so close to us

God with us, Immanuel!

God with us, so close to us

God with us, Immanuel!

So ends Graham Kendrick's song. My prayer is that you will experience 'God with you' the Christmastide. May I wish you a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year

SOME OF THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS