by Rev. Donnie G. MacDonald (Moderator)
Last week I was visiting someone and they were watching Undercover Boss on their TV, so I watched it with them. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the programme, a CEO of a company disguises him or herself and goes undercover to work on the factory floor; the shopfront; the production line, of their company. Nobody in the workforce knows that they are working beside their boss, and in that way, the boss gets to see and experience the day-to-day challenges of his or her employees. They get to know their workforce better as they roll up their sleeves and muck in. The experience is very far removed from the Board Room, and the luxurious lifestyles they are accustomed to. At the end of the programme, there is the great reveal, when the boss meets with the workers and tells them who they really are, much to their employees’ surprise.
I know the illustration is full of flaws, but still, when we look into the manger what do we see? We see our Undercover Boss. We see the Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John1:14) We see Immanuel, God with us. (Matthew 1:23). We see him, through whom all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him (Colossians 3:16). We see him who was in very nature God, making himself nothing, being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:6-7). We see the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the one who is Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord God Almighty (Isaiah 6). We see the Boss and he is a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. He is utterly dependant on his mother Mary to feed him, and clean him, and comfort him, for despite what the carol says, the little Lord Jesus crying did make! Jesus wept.
And for me, that is the beauty of Christmas.
I love Christmas time, I love having all the family together, I love watching the Polar Express on Christmas Eve, I love watching the opening of presents, I love the food and the time around the table, but I also find Christmas a difficult time. It is a time when I often reflect on life and loss. It is a time when I miss, even more keenly, loved ones who have passed. It’s a time when I think about life’s journey so far with all its ups and downs, a time when I feel heavily the burdens that others are carrying, whether it be in the congregation or the community. But then I look into the cradle and I know peace because there I see my great High Priest who can empathise with our weaknesses, because he was tested in every way just as we are – and yet without sin. I see him from whom I can find mercy and receive grace in my time of need (Hebrews 4:15-16). I see the King of the Universe who came onto the factory floor of our fallen and messy world, who knows and understands us, who has experienced our sadness and sorrows, and I say, ‘what a friend we have in Jesus’.
And as I look beyond the cradle, I see Calvary. Beyond the manger I, “behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon his shoulders”. I see him who was designed to give life through his death, for “he shared in our humanity so that by his death he might break him who holds the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14). In the great reveal of the Gospel I not only see the King of Kings, I see the Saviour of sinners, I see Jesus, and I sing, ‘Glory to God in the Highest!’.
Whatever your circumstances are this Christmas, may you all know the presence and the blessing of Christ.