Sunday, December 26, 2010
I saw them yesterday and then again today on the journey home from Albany. It was one of those small towns which dot the South Georgia landscape. One yard after another had a red manufactured road side sign which read, "Happy Birthday Jesus." Now I must confess to attending a few Birthday Parties for Jesus complete with cake. In December someone decides a birthday party for Jesus would make for a good children's event at church. I have never planned one, but have walked in on more than a few. To be honest is to admit that there is something inside which screeches like a finger nail scraping a chalk board whenever this birthday for Jesus business shows up.
It has never seemed like good theology. The "Happy Birthday Jesus" signs are trivializing. People have birthdays, but I am not sure it is appropriate to use the human method of calculating years when speaking of the One spoken of with the sacred words, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God" (John 1:1-2). For those who might wonder about the identity of "the Word" John later goes on to proclaim, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:12). No one really questions the fact that "the Word" and "Jesus" are one and the same.
All this birthday stuff is like saying, "Let us make Him in our own image." Folks have done such for a long time. When we talk about Jesus we use words such as Transfiguration, Resurrection, Ascension, and Glorification. Christmas does not call us to celebrate His birthday, but the Incarnation, the news that God has chosen to be with us. No matter how much we might try, it is not a human event to be celebrated with a party, but a divine event which should be remembered on our knees.