Incarnate. Now there’s a word that you don’t hear every day. It does tend to pop up a bit more at this time of year. In case you are not familiar with the word, it means “in the flesh.” And it is used to describe what happened 2000+ years ago when God appeared in the flesh in the person of Jesus. Why did He do that you might ask. Great question. The succinct answer is this: God wanted to communicate in an unmistakable way a few things that couldn’t be done from His throne in heaven. He needed some face time with the people that He created, that He loved so much, and that had turned away from following Him. He wanted to make a loud and clear statement that would once and for all prove the depth of His love and His desire for reconciliation. He didn’t want people to spend an eternity separated from Him and unable to enjoy the magnificence of a home in heaven with Him. Thus the cross! Thus the resurrection! But it began with the birth! That pivotal moment in human history when God took on the appearance of a man. The incarnation! The virgin birth! The baby in a manger! Jesus!
How’s that for an opening to our Christmas letter this year. I am astounded at the extent to which God went to fix the mess that I (we) had made of things. Then I started thinking this week about a “what if.” What if Jesus had never been born? What if the incarnation had never taken place? How would that have changed our world? How would that have changed my world? I want to frame our Christmas this year with that question in mind.
If Jesus had never been born…
There would be no us! This year Linda and I celebrated our 29th anniversary. Yes that means that we are old. But we met 31 years ago on a Campus Crusade for CHRIST beach project. No Jesus. No Shay and Linda.
The next few follow quite naturally. There would be no Christy. We would not have watched she and her husband Chad continue to grow in their 3rd year of marriage. We would not have seen her excel as a 2nd grade teacher. We would not have watched Chad graduate from seminary. We would not have found out what an incredible blogger and photographer she is. We would not be praying now for the place of ministry the Lord has for them – possibly overseas.
There would be no Scott. We would never have seen him graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill in May. He would never have started seminary at Southeastern in August. He would not be preparing to go overseas as a part of the seminary’s 2+2 program (2 years theological education + 2 years overseas on the mission field.) I would never have seen him make an unbelievable ace on one of the hardest holes of our favorite disc golf course. He would never be working at The Bargain Box in Raleigh to support himself.
There would be no Tucker. He would not be a sophomore at NC State this year. He would not be leading a freshman Bible Study through Campus Crusade. He would not have gone to India for 2+ weeks last summer to serve with missionaries there. Nor would he have worked at Crossroads Camp as a counselor when he returned. He would not be enjoying rock climbing, disc golf, Harry Potter movies, or be in 1st place in his fantasy football league.
If Jesus had never been born…
I would not be the Executive Pastor at Ridgecrest Baptist Church – now in my 18th year. I would not have been the Project Coordinator for the IWC trip to Peru this past summer (that Linda, Christy, and Chad were all a part of). We were able to share the gospel message and disciple believers in 5 villages along the Amazon.
If Jesus had never been born… we would not know the One who is the Prince of Peace and we would not have known such peace in the midst of so much transition in our lives: 1) our pastor retiring, 2) our youth pastor leaving to go on the mission field, 3) my responsibilities on staff changing as a result of both of these, 4) Linda’s principal changing and new counseling colleagues to work with, 5) Christy and Chad figuring out “what next?” 6) Scott preparing to go overseas.
So perhaps you can see why we celebrate the incarnation. Why Christmas is special to us. Why we are thrilled that Jesus was indeed born! We are incredibly blessed as a family and our desire is that you would experience the blessing of God upon your life and understand in it’s most profound way the meaning of John 1:14…
“The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us!”
Christy, Chad, Tucker, Scott
Shay and Linda