Tuesday, December 24, 2013

What if God was one of us?

In 1995 a song by Joan Osborne asked the question, “What if God was one of us?” The song was an instant hit, reaching Billboard’s Top 40 by November of that year. Its fame was not due to the popularity of the singer (Joan Osborne is now listed among music’s “One Hit Wonders”), nor did it have a particularly great or sing-able melody. The reason for the song’s popularity is that it taps into deeply held, universal questions about God: 

“If God had a name, what would it be?”
“What would you ask if you had just one question?”
“If God had a face, what would it look like?”

While I’m sure the song’s producers never intended it to be a holiday hit, “What If God Was One of Us” always makes me think of Christmas nonetheless. After all, Christmas tells us that God did, in fact, become one of us. One day while driving my then 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter home, my son asked, “Daddy, what does God look like?”

As a trained seminarian and ordained minister of the Gospel, I took a moment to contemplate how I could explain the attributes of God, the complexities of the Trinity and the intricacies of the incarnation to a four-year-old. This was a great teachable moment and I didn’t want to blow it! Before I could deliver my answer, however, my 2-year-old daughter said, “He looks like Jesus!”

My daughter was right. With all the simplicity of a child, she expressed the truth of Christmas perfectly: Jesus shows us what God is like. The Bible says, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we beheld His glory.” Jesus is God “with skin on.” And because He was willing to come to earth and live among us, He understands the struggles and trials we face. God is aware of our pain and is willing to bear our grief and carry our sorrows. Had there been buses in first-century Palestine, Jesus would have been “just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home.” But better yet, He would have been a stranger helping you find your way home, too.

Merry Christmas. May the Christ Child lead you home this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

T'was the Week Before Christmas

T'was the week before Christmas and all through the church
Every staff member hustled and felt in a lurch.
The deacons were busy, the grow groups atwitter,
Fresh paint on the steeple atwinkle like glitter.

Tonight there is music and dinner and laughing
For Christmas at Southside is sure to be smashing!
Sunday we'll continue with John 3:16
The truth from the Scripture we hope you will glean.

We're collecting for Lottie, our goal it is high;
We've a long way to go so I hope you will try
To dig a bit deeper into that small stash
And give it to missions, which always needs cash!

On Friday the garden will ring with glad sound,
as saxophone music and much fun abound.
Hot chocolate and popcorn and games we'll consume,
So come meet our neighbors and watch the love bloom
On the night before Christmas we'll gather inside
To sing songs by candles and welcome Yuletide.
The blood and the body of that little babe
Was offered on Calvary, mankind He would save.
So much of the season goes by in a hurry
We know that your eyes become clouded and blurry.
So take time to breathe and remind friend and neighbor
That Jesus has come for mankind He does favor.
From your pastor and staff: we all wish you good cheer
For a very Merry Christmas and most blessed New Year.