Labs Can’t Help But Leap 

“You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.” – Psalm 80:1

It was a hot day. Lake Michigan was glass. Standing next to me was a man with a black Lab. The dog was dying to get in the water. Quivering. Doing its best not to bark, but failing, an excited yip escaped its lips.

The man gave in, launched a tennis ball into the lake. The dog was off like an Olympian, breaking the lake’s surface with a crack and then back with the ball ten seconds later. He did it again. And again, and again.

It is what he was made for. Retrievers chase tennis balls like stars shine in the midnight sky. Both of these are beautiful. Neither is surprising. Dogs and stars are tied to their natures. Everything is.

It is God’s nature to be praised. God is above. We’re below. God is perfect. We’re broken. God is enthroned upon the cherubim. We’re walking through the muck. God made us. We sing God’s praises. It’s the nature of things.

Until it isn’t. Labs and stars can’t break their essence, but Christmas proves that God can. God exists to be worshiped, but at Christmas God comes to serve us. God towers above, but at Christmas, Christ is born below. God is wholly other, but at Christmas God becomes one of us. God is perfect and powerful, but at Christmas Christ comes as an infant, inarticulate, unformed, weak, dependent. 

God is not limited by anything. Including might, including strength, including God’s very nature. At Christmas Christ proves God’s might by contradicting it. In the manger he establishes God’s majesty by shedding it. In the manger, Christ shows God’s transcendent power by surrendering it.


Dear God let our jaws drop in wonder, let us worship, even as you serve us.

ddauthormattfitzgerald.jpgAbout the Author
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of “Preachers on Preaching,” a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.