In response to a piece i shared on Christmas, which among other things, invited readers to share some of their creative/revolutionary/others-focused ideas they had for celebrating Christmas, i was tweeted by Graham Heslop links to two articles, asking me to check them out.

i’m not going to lie, i wasn’t super enthusiastic, mostly because the idea of reading more articles feels a little bit like work. But Graham is someone i follow on the Twitterer [@avosquirrel] and generally like or agree with a bunch of stuff he has posted and so i went to take a look. And was pretty much blown away.  Thank you, Graham!

Short, simple and to the point and both well worth reading, especially the first one focusing on Incarnation which is a concept i completely love and a drawn towards.

The Christ Event and the True Christmas Spirit –  Graham Heslop

He quotes J.I. Packer as referring to the idea of Incarnation as  ‘the most profound and unfathomable depths of Christian revelation’: God took on human flesh and was born. The eternal Son, who was with the Father, through whom the world was created and by whom all life is sustained, became a man (John 1:1-4, 14).

One thing i really love about the idea of the Incarnation is the picture that it presents of this message of ours which is meant to be ‘Good News’ and yet which too often [thanks to our messiness] is not presented that way. But taking us back in reminding us that the Christmas message is that of God leaving the luxuries of heaven behind and revealing Himself to us, face to face.

He ends it by pointing us towards a ‘true meaning of Christmas type message’ where he highlights, the model of Christ we are called to imitate: continual and selfless pursuit of others’ interests.’

Christmas and Incarnation should be held hand in hand and this post by Graham really helped achieve that in simple yet dramatic form.

The Traditions of Men and our Forgotten King – Graham Heslop

This piece focuses on the tension that exists between human traditions and the Kingship of Jesus. I love how he sums it up:

When it came to the traditions of men Jesus was incensed by their obscuring effect; his fight was not against the Jews’ practices and cultural artifacts, but how those drew the Jewish people away from God. 

He reminds us that Jesus was pretty harsh with the religious leaders of the day and this quote from Mark 7 backs that up:

“You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition, making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (Mark 7:9, 13).

As we head into the Christmas season and a huge spotlight falls on our plans, our parties, our food, our presents, there is an ongoing refrain of ‘Me, me, me, me, me, me’ that can be heard and observed if you listen closely enough. Christmas gives us the ‘Get out of Jail Free’ card to justify any crazy, out of control spending we would not be happy with at any other time of the year.

Graham sums up this wrestling so clearly:

Tomorrow is the day in the Christian calendar when we remember the Son’s self-giving work, which began with the incarnation. Yet tomorrow is most likely already consumed by brightly adorned trees sheltering piles of presents, large family gatherings, and gluttonously sized meals – the traditions of men.

And draws mention to Jesus as ‘The Forgotten King’ and the desperate call that in the midst of all of the building up of momentum as we head towards Christmastime, we don’t lose sight of the One who all this is meant to be about… and the life and world transforming lifestyle He calls us to be living out.

Let’s not miss Christ this Christmas.

[For the piece i wrote inviting you to share your creative Christmas ideas with us all, click here]

[For an older piece i wrote on Keeping the Cross in Cross-mas, click here]