One of my struggles nearly every Advent and Christmas is that I feel over-sentimentalized. Christmas and the incarnation feel too much like a Norman Rockwell painting or Hallmark movie and not the real, visceral, life-altering event that it is. We are so prone to turn on our “smells and bells“ mindset that I’m afraid we are missing so much of the truth.

 It is after all the “greatest story ever told” and arguably the most told story. Maybe familiarity breeds not contempt but contentment or complacency.

We are content to think about Jesus and Christmas and incarnation the way we always have, in some sweet storybook way. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, the details are usually true and accurate, but the weight and the significance are lost in the telling.

 There is this sense just below the surface in me that if we understood the incarnation, we would not, could not be satisfied with Hallmark Christmas.

 It seems to me that a more appropriate response to the news that Almighty God was choosing to pursue us, to leave heaven and timelessness and put on flesh to become one of us should evoke something much closer to shock and awe than sweetness and warmth.

 Forgive me if this feel like I’m coming on too strong but I would love for us to spend this week together trying to see with new eyes and feel differently – (more appropriately?).

 I wonder if part of my struggle is that the plain prose of the story is insufficient for what is happening. “Levels of reality here are so beyond us they invite extravagance of language.“ - Eugene Peterson

 Can we experiment with some extravagant language this week? Maybe that will help us catch more of the weight and reality?

 Father, I’m afraid that much of the reality and truth and weight of the incarnation is lost in the dailiness of my life. Would you help me this week to grasp more of the music, more of the beauty, more of the weight of the astonishing truth that You have come from forever to enter my today! Why would You do that? Why would Almighty choose to become mankind? Would you give me more space within me to grasp more of this truth, more of You?

 [As we begin this week looking at God-with-skin, I would encourage you to stop and listen to the song “Why Does God Have To Look So Human” by friends Don and Lori Chaffer from Waterdeep. It is part of a really rich, thought-provoking and entertaining musical called The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby. Here Mary, holding her new baby, the Messiah, in her arms is wondering out loud about who this little one is.]