Grace Notes in the Desert

Grace Notes in the Desert is written for the saints of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church and the surrounding community.

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Grace Notes acknowledges we need God's grace and forgivness as much as the desert water.



And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be?...
--Luke 1: 34

Christmas is about the Incarnation of God: the birth of the Savior of the world.

Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, liked to describe the Incarnation this way: there once was a King who loved a maiden, but the King was glorious, wealthy, powerful; and the maiden was humble, poor and lived among peasants. So, the King had a dilemma: if he were to come to this woman in all his splendor his presence, alone, would overwhelm her; and if he were to come to her in all his authority, she would be compelled, either way, to do whatever he commanded.

But, the King who was not only powerful, but wise, considered yet another way to win her love: “What if I were to come to her in her own people’s garments? What if I exchanged my riches for her poverty? My glory for her misery? Would she welcome me as her own? Would she, perhaps, even love me?

And, if she loved me then, would not her love be freely chosen and, therefore, love indeed?”

This, Kierkegaard writes, is what God chose to do in the birth of Jesus Christ: become a human being like one of us, exchanging the glory of heaven for a manger birth; the joy of heaven for the suffering on earth. God did so, not only to take our suffering upon himself, but to see if we--ordinary folks who know a lot about earth, but little about heaven--might actually love him; and loving him, come to recognize and trust his true identity.

Question is: do we love him--this One who comes to us in our humanity, disguising his divinity? Enough to recognize him as the Holy One of Israel, God’s own Son, as angels sing? Or, do we suppose, in the words of our contemporary songs, he’s “just a slob like one of us?”— the ‘illegitimate, step-child of Joseph’--as atheists and cynics believe?

I don’t know how Kierkegaard’s story ended. Did the woman come to love a King? Or, did she just walk by a poor and ordinary guy? What would it take to open her eyes?

What would it take to open ours?

Yours in Christ,
A Pastor in the Desert