Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

Sunday Sermonizing: Inflatable Nativities and Bowing Santas


The wonder of this season is not what current commercials on television would have you believe. In fact, most seasonal advertising has nothing to do with the Advent.

Nor should it, really.

We can’t expect a consumer-driven society created by a capitalistic economy to be overly inspired by an incomprehensible and deeply theological truth.

It doesn’t sell well.

We sell snow and mistletoe, the sentiment and the nostalgia, sales and flat-screens as “the spirit of Christmas”. We’re much more comfortable with that because it can be a nameless, faceless, impersonal thing. This is why Macy’s can plaster “believe” in bright red letters all over Manhattan, and it works.

You can believe anything you want to believe. It’s Christmas.

Again. It’s fine. It sells. I’m not being critical. I’m not worried about it. I don’t expect anything less from a society crippled by consumerism.

Those who live by faith should know better, anyway.

The Good News is that God got personal. He became one of us. The “Word became flesh” shows us not only that God is real, but it shows us how God is real. The wonder of Advent is not a moment in a stable. The wonder of this season (and every season) is that we can now see how God thinks and feels and acts.

We know he forgives and heals. We know he cares about broken and marginalized people - and weeps when we don’t care. He’s concerned about the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. He hangs out with lepers and prostitutes and swindlers and swearers and thieves - and apparently enjoys it. And he doesn’t leave any of them the same way he found them. He came for the sick and the poor and the weary. And even if people reject him, he loves anyway. He’s full of grace and truth.

God got personal. He became human. And through this very act, we can embrace our own humanity in stronger, fiercer ways than we’ve previously imagined.

Now we know. And we are known.

Jesus is, indeed, the Way. Our way to God. God’s way to us. It’s simple and beautiful. It’s human. It’s divine. It’s completely incomprehensible.

And it can’t be sold.

We try. But when we try to market incarnation, we do a terrible job with our inflatable nativities and bowing Santas.

Incarnation can’t be marketed.

It simply must be looked at. Looking at Jesus is looking at God - and even a fleeting glance or the touch of his clothes changes everything.

That’s the real wonder of Advent.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
— John 1:14 (ESV)