I don’t know if you have those memories that really stick with you, that crop up at certain times of the year? For me, it’s eleven years ago tomorrow, on 12th December 2009. I was standing at the front of a packed church and still remember the impact of everyone launching into this epic chorus of ‘O Come all ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant.’ I was standing next to a rather good looking young man at the time who was sporting a suit instead of jeans for once, and I didn’t scrub up too badly either in the most expensive, stunning dress I will ever wear.
My husband and I opened our Christmas Wedding Service with this classic carol because of its bold and beautiful claims about who Christ is. Christ, God Incarnate, the word of God made flesh, The Creator of the world assuming a created form, the sinless Saviour coming to bear the flesh of fallen humanity, The Lord of heaven enthroned above descending to be God with us, God as man. Full God. Fully Man.
Come and behold Him, the hymn declares, born, the King of angels. There is a reason that the incarnation provokes and stirs the worship and wonder of angels, wise men, and shepherds, there is a reason we cannot but sing ‘Come let us adore him‘.
In the gift of advent, the coming of God to man as man, this gift of the incarnation surely we come and behold more of Christ to warrant the kind of love, joy, victorious and triumphant rejoicing, tears of love and words and prayers of adoration that we could never even begin to offer this side of heaven.
Surely we do don’t we? But, if we’re honest, does the incarnation immediately cause this reaction in us? Or, is it that part of our Christian thinking, our theology that comes out at advent and then retreats again for another 11 months of the year, apart from that part in the creed we say:
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary
But the joy and wonder of advent is truly a gift for the whole year. The coming of God as man has impact for us long after the nativities are over and the decorations packed away.
We need to linger by the manger a little longer, heed the sign of the star in the sky allowing it to direct our hearts and minds to the miraculous mystery of this baby lying in a manger.
As we read and hear of the praise of the angels in the sky, let us allow wonder and worship to fill our hearts at what God really is revealing to us both about himself and about ourselves in the incarnation. Come and behold him born the King of angels. O come let us adore Him.
In the incarnation, God became man. The eternal Son of God was born. Let us behold here a glimpse of the outrageous pure grace of God in the incarnation. God became man, for man. The Son of God came down, left his throne in heaven at the Father’s side, out of pure love for the Father and love for you. From first to last, we are passive and grateful recipients of the outrageous grace and deep mercy of God, from Bethlehem to Calvary, from the womb to the empty tomb, God alone acts for the salvation of his people for God became man.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing, O come let us adore Him
Only the One who was fully God, who knew and lovingly submitted to the will of God the Father, who shared perfect unity of will with the Father and Spirit in the eternal joy and loving unity of the Trinity,, could restore to us the purpose of our lives in giving glory to God, and teach us so we might live in faithful knowledge of God.
“No one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him”.
If Jesus was a mere man, he would not be able to have or teach full knowledge of God. The finite cannot contain the infinite. But as eternal Word of God made flesh, he came to bring us saving knowledge of the Father. The eternal word of God came to speak into the hearts of men the very word of God.
On our wedding day, Ben and I made vows of commitment to one another, not only to love one another in sickness and health, to share all we had with one another, to lovingly, wisely, lead and submit, but to be one another’s. We promised to one another ‘I am yours’ and every day since and now on, we have learned the assurance, comfort and also some days the battle and pain of remembering and living with the reality that ‘You are mine’. In our stumbling, fallen, human way of loving one another, Ben and I have had seasons of, boasting in our vows, of feeling them tested, resisted, of being comforted and assured by them. Over the last eleven years, through much joy, and sickness, through times of despairing together and of one another, as we’ve born the burdens of broken bodies and minds, as we’ve joyfully, fiercely contended for one another in trials, we have not done it by our own strength, or power, only by the sheer grace of God.
The same grace of God seen in the eternal Word made flesh.
The same grace of God seen in the loving surrender of the Son to seek and save the lost. Seen in the all holy, eternal Son of God condescending to be born a baby.
The same grace of God seen in the Light of the World coming towards a world entrenched in darkness, to pierce and flood the darkness of the pain and sin around us and within us with his life giving light.
The same grace of God who from the incarnation to the ascension of Jesus, from Bethlehem to Calvary, from the empty womb of Mary to the gloriously empty tomb brings us to our knees in worshipful surrender of God’s work alone to save us and sustain us.
The outrageous grace of the incarnation that calls us to come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
I know I’m bias but I do love a Christmas wedding. And in the incarnation, God gives us a glimpse of his work on our helpless behalf, as He comes in all Light, truth, knowledge, power and loving surrender, all for the sake of those the Father has given him, whom he will never cast us, whom he advocates for now and sustains by his outrageous grace until the day He will welcome us as our faithful, most loving and all perfect bridegroom, delighting in us, his heart full of love as we come to the One who Came down for us, forever, clothed in the most spotless, stainless, precious dress of his righteousness, as his most beloved bride.
In the incarnation, Christ came down to seek his bride, to pledge his vows of faithfulness and love that we might hear from our eternally faithful bridegroom, Redeemer, Lord and Saviour, “I am yours, and you are mine.”
This advent season, come and behold Him Christ the Lord, whose incarnation gives us a glimpse and foretaste of the most glorious Christmas wedding of history.
O Come Let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord