When God chose to reveal to the world God’s holy power over sin and evil, a power that is even victorious over death itself, God’s will was to come down. Because we could not ascend to God, God descended to us. God emptied God’s self, poured God’s self out, humbled God’s self to meet us where we are through a tiny baby, born down in a stable, laid down in a feeding troth for animals, and worshipped by downtrodden shepherds.
And since that night in Bethlehem, Jesus continued this downward will of God. Jesus said: “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me…” (John 6:38).
The scriptures do say that Jesus grew upward in stature; however, we continually witnessed in him moving downwardly. We saw him continually bending himself to the ground, getting his hands dirty, to touch the places in people that most need touching.
When his uppity disciples chastised little children who needed to shape up and grow up before they could come to Jesus, Jesus argued that the Kingdom of God actually belonged to such children.
While his disciples got on their high horses and argued about who was going to move up to be first in the Kingdom, Jesus frustrated them (and if we are honest, frustrated us) by doing things like moving down to sit at the lowest seat at the table, bending down to wash their feet, stooping down to welcome little children, crouching down to forgive a sinner, reaching down to pick up the poor, lowering himself down to serve the outcast, accept the marginalized, touch the leper, heal the sick, and raise the dead.
Jesus’ ministry was continually downward. While others exercised worldly power to move up, climb up, and advance, Jesus exercised a strange and peculiar power that moved him in the opposite direction.
It is not a power that rules but a power that serves.
It is not a power that takes but a power that gives.
It is not a power instills fear but a power that imparts love.
It is not a power that condemns but a power that forgives.
It is not a power that seizes but a power that suffers.
It is not a power that dominates but is a power that dies.
This is the way of Christ. This is the peculiar, power of Christmas.
Sadly, the ones proclaiming Christmas the loudest these days, most often proclaim it up on their high horses in the most uppity of ways.