"And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."
It was one of those ideas that seem good on paper but turn out to be really bad in the carrying out.
I was serving a church in Ohio and we were having a Christmas candle lighting service. People were given candles as they entered that had paper shields at the bottom to keep them from getting hot wax on their hands. As I always do in worship services, I took a moment for a brief children's message and called the children up to the front. My plan was to hand them each a candle, light them, and get them to sing happy birthday to Jesus and blow the candles out. It was going well until there was the sound of "YEEEOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!" as a screaming little girl threw her candle down, hot wax on her hand, and ran down the aisle to her mom, and was whisked away from the bad pyromaniac pastor. There was no injury but I got a LOT of really nasty looks as people left at the end of the service.
Like I said, it seemed like a good idea but was really a bad idea. Make that a BAD idea. Lesson learned: Giving small children a lit candle makes as much sense as asking the family dog to watch your dinner plate. You just don't do it.
God had a great idea 2000 years ago: Come down to earth as a little baby, grow up, do all kinds of wonderful things for people, many of them ungrateful, and take on the weight and punishment of all our sin onto Himself on the cross, and kill death and sin and resurrect again to give us new, abundant, and eternal life. And start the whole thing off with causing a virgin teenage girl to be pregnant, cause scandal to her family and fiancé, and be born in a cave used for quartering animals miles away from home, with no medical facilities or even a midwife, all because of a stupid tax audit. A holy night during a typical government requirement.
But this was no "good idea on paper/bad idea in practice." God descended to the lowest to lift us to the highest. As C.S. Lewis said, "The Son of God became a man for men to become sons of God." As he said in his poem, "Nativity:"
Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.
Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So may my beast like folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.
Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baaing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence!
Philippians 2:5-11 reads:
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form (Greek morphe, or "very substance") of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness (again, morphe) of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Let this mind be in us at Christmas: God stepped down to lift us up. Let's not be afraid to get our hands a little dirty if necessary by stepping down for someone else and lifting them up.
Don't worry about getting burned like an innocent child meeting a pyro pastor.
God's ideas are great on paper and in practice.
A very, very Merry Christmas to you and your kin, and as Tiny Tim said, "God bless us every one."