"For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance . . ." - 1 Thessalonians 1:5
As we approach the celebration of the incarnation of God in Christ at Christmas, our ears are already filled with the festive, majestic words of the season. "Shalom," "Glad tidings to all," "Peace on earth," "Wise men still seek him," "The greatest gift of all," "For unto us a son is born; a child is given," "Silent night, Holy night," "Behold the star," "Joy to the world!"
But despite the beloved choruses of our holiday hymns, scriptures and salutations, the Apostle Paul suggests that what God has given to us through Christ Jesus can never be adequately proclaimed through words alone. For in Christ, God has given us much more than a good word or a good sentiment or a good idea. In Christ, God has given us the power of word made flesh. In Christ, God shows us the awesome power we have when we take lofty principles and incorporate them into everyday human practices. In Christ, the concept of good is realized and personified in a human character to which we can all relate. In Christ, God invites us to simultaneously embrace the full humanity and the full divinity that is in each of us.
Such Good News can never be conveyed in words alone. This Good News requires a passionate presence among people, the strength to forgive and the humility to be forgiven, the faith to keep searching for light despite the darkness of night, and, oh yes . . . the willingness to approach grown-up things through the eyes of a child.
Much more than the words we speak, we must seek to become the incarnation of Advent this season.
Dear God, in addition to the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, give me the will and the capacity to act out the meaning of Advent through Christ who animates me. Amen.
Kenneth L. Samuel is Pastor of Victory for the World Church, Stone Mountain, Georgia.