It is an ordinary day as you stop by your corner convenience store, looking for a quick lunch. After deciding against pastries or a microwaveable burrito, you select a hotdog off of the rotating carousel, put it in a bun, sprinkle it oh-so-carefully with just the right amount of ketchup and mustard, and prepare to enjoy a tasty meal. At that precise moment, a wild-eyed man comes up to you and screams, “Stop! Don’t eat that hotdog! That hotdog is God!”
You are startled. Clearly this man needs his head examined. “You think this hotdog is God?” “Yes, exactly!” he exclaims, “The hotdog is God, who has become flesh and dwelt among us, as the prophets have foretold!” With great patience, you try to reason with him, showing how it is not possible that this hotdog is God. God is infinite, without limits, and yet this hotdog is quite finite: sometimes it takes two or three to really fill a person up! God is pure spirit, and yet this hotdog is pure matter, nothing spiritual about it. God is without beginning or end, and yet this hotdog was created only a few weeks ago and will cease to exist by the end of lunch!
But the man insists, continuing to exclaim that the hotdog before you is God Himself. A little exasperated, you ask, “But HOW could God, who is all-perfect, take flesh and be present among us in this small cylinder of pork by-products? How could God, who is everywhere and yet whom the entire universe cannot contain, be sitting on this counter? And if He were to enter into our world, why would He possibly choose to take flesh now, here of all places, in a tiny convenience store on a hotdog rack?”
And to prove your point, you reach down, grab the hotdog, and take a big chomp out of it, saying with your mouth full, “See? If the all-powerful God were dwelling in this hotdog, would He have allowed me to do that?”
So as Christmas looms, why am I asking you to imagine nonsense about a silly hotdog? Of course, we Christians believe that in the fullness of time God became flesh and dwelt among us, not in the form of a hotdog, but in the form of the God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. But we have heard this so many times, I think, that we lose the sense of the mystery and wonder of it all. It’s almost as if we think, “Of COURSE God became one of us, why wouldn’t He have?”
What a miracle, wonder of wonders! The God of the universe, totally infinite, and yet dwelling in the finite body and soul of a man! The God with no beginning or end, entering our world two thousand years ago in a tiny village that the emperor had never heard of! That which the entire universe cannot contain, coming in our very midst in a small baby boy, just as indistinguishable from other baby boys as our hotdog was from the other ones on the rack! And thirty years later, people would stand at Calvary and point to him and say, “See? If that man truly were God, would he have allowed us to do that to him?”
This is what Christmas is about, the great mystery of God Himself dwelling among us so that he could redeem us from our sin. This, and nothing less, is the reason to celebrate on December 25th. Are you setting apart special time for prayer and reading of the Gospels during these weeks before Christmas, to allow the beauty and wonder of this Christmas mystery to seep into your heart?Christmas, Incarnation, Jesus