It's also a time to miss a golden opportunity. The golden opportunity is to preach a theology of incarnation. But, year in and year out, this chance is missed in evangelical churches.
Our mentions of incarnation boil down to the Abrupt, the Apologetic or the Anselmian.
“God in skin. Weird huh? Anyway…”
“Jesus shows up in time and space which means that we can verify the truth through historical methods, and really the New Testament documents are very reliable don’t you know…”
“God basically wants to acquit his elect and so needs a Scapegoat to take the fall. And there he is the manger. Weird huh? Anyway…”
Where are the Athanasian, Atoning, Abasing themes?
The Athanasian Incarnation:
“In this marvellous exchange, He becomes what we are, that we might become what He is”?
The Atoning Incarnation:
"Here is God-With-Us, making us at-one in His very Person!"
The Abasing Incarnation:
I wonder if we shy away from the Athanasian incarnation because we don't want to get into (or don't properly understand) the trinitarian theology that makes sense of it.
I wonder if we shy away from the Atoning incarnation because ontology has no place in our thinking about atonement. (This is also why our Easter sermons contain no theology of resurrection - only a 'proof that the cross worked'.)
I wonder if we shy away from the Abasing incarnation because we're wedded to a theology of glory that refuses to countenance the little LORD Jesus.
If any of these guesses are anywhere near the mark, let me suggest a remedy. Read Athanasius' On the Incarnation and hear the kind of Christmas message that has warmed the hearts of millions down through the ages. Get started here as you listen to Mike Reeves read extracts.
And for what they're worth, here are three of my own posts on incarnation:
(For good measure here’s a paper on Athanasius and Irenaeus)
These are some talks in which I've tried to preach this theology...
Evangelistic carols service – Light shining in darkness – Isaiah 9:2-7 (different to the other Isaiah 9)
What resources have you found helpful? Please share the wealth in comments...