Do the details of our lives matter?
The gospel accounts are full of details about the incarnation, of God becoming human. Real places – Nazareth, Galilee, Judea, Bethlehem. Real people – David, Joseph, Mary, a son. Real expectation – they were pledged to be married, they were expecting a child. Real situations – a census forcing a man and his pregnant wife to travel and register in his home town, a town with no guest room for this tired couple, a birth that takes place away from home, away from comfort. Real activity – a mother wrapping her newborn in cloths and placing him down to rest in a cattle trough.
God comes to a particular family, in a particular place, in particular circumstances. He comes in human form: a real birth, to real parents, needing the warmth and comfort of a mother’s touch.
Incarnation is that big theological word that means God came among us as a human being. Jesus was fully God and fully human, living a real human life. Or, as one translator puts it, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood” (John 1:14, The Message)
God’s activity in our world and in our lives is not abstract: God comes to us in the details of our lives still – the particular places we find ourselves in, with the people we are with, in the circumstances we face, in the day to day activities which make up our lives. And like that first Christmas, God’s coming to us in Jesus transforms our humanity, because our lives are no longer empty shells but rather full of the presence, power and purpose of God.
Today, we might think the details of our lives are insignificant and unpromising. But what makes our lives full of significance and promise is the presence of God, come to us through Jesus.