Tag Archives: Incarnation
An old Russian tale tells of Prince Alexis
He lived in a luxurious palace, while all around him the peasantry existed in squalor, poverty, and misery.
Alexis was moved with compassion at their plight, and wanted to help in some way.
He left his luxurious surroundings, and walked amongst them, but he had no point of real contact. They were in awe of him, and treated him with great deference and respect.
Therefore, he could not win their confidence or affection.
His visit to them proved futile, and he returned to the palace, a defeated and disappointed man.
Some time later, a very different man came among the people. He was rough and ready, with no airs or graces. He was a doctor who wanted to devote his life to helping the poor.
He rented a vermin-infested shack, and lived amongst them. He wore old and tattered clothes. He ate plain, simple, peasant food, and, most times, he did not know where his next meal would come from.
He made no money because he treated the people free, and gave away his medicines.
Consequently, he won great respect and was loved by the people in quite a different way to their Prince, Alexis.
He was one of them. And he managed to transform the place. Not only did he minister to them as their doctor; he also settled quarrels and reconciled enemies. He helped make better lives.
Eventually, of course, his secret was discovered. The doctor was none other then Prince Alexis himself. Alexis had deliberately abandoned the palace and gone down to the people and lived amongst them……to fully identify with them in their need and in their suffering, in order to help them and make their lives happier and stronger.
Jesus said ‘I have come to give life, life in all its fullness, life in abundance.’ In Jesus Christ, God left his lofty heavenly home, to come down into the human condition – to be like us – to be for us and with us…..God Incarnate….Emmanuel…..whose coming we greet at this Holy time.
Soren Kierkegaard tells this wonderful story:
There was once a man who did not believe in either the virgin birth of Christ or the spiritual meaning behind it, and was skeptical even about God.
He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in the faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her belief and mocked her religious observances.
“It’s all nonsense — why would God lower himself and become a human like us? It’s such a ridiculous story,” he said.
One snowy day, she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they had departed, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blinding snowstorm.
He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window… And, still another thump. He looked outside but could not see anything. So he ventured outside for a better view. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese. They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but they had been caught in the snowstorm. The storm had become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles.
He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, the barn would be a great place for them to stay. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he opened the barn doors for them. He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. Nevertheless, they did not notice the barn or realise what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear.
He went into the house and came back with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still did not catch on. Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them toward the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter.
Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, “Why don’t they follow me? Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm? How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them?” He thought for a moment and realised that they just would not follow a human. He said to himself, “How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them. Then I could save them. They would follow me and be saved
At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had said. The words reverberated in his mind: If only I could become like one of them, then I could save them.
Then, at last, he understood God’s heart towards humankind…and he fell on his knees in the snow!
Years of doubt and disbelief vanished like the passing storm. He fell to his knees in the snow, and prayed his first prayer: “Thank You, God, for coming in human form to get me out of the storm!”