Occupy Bethlehem

For the past four months we’ve been inundated with images and stories of protesters occupying Wall Street. Lest we become shortsighted and forget, the first occupy movement began 2000 years ago. Occupy Bethlehem.

The Christmas story is the story of God’s invasion of Bethlehem. To occupy it. Christmas is the story of God’s dissatisfaction with our status quo and his protestation of our condition.

Motivated by love, Christmas is the story of God taking action through Christ to redistribute heavenly riches to the 99%.

You waste Christmas if you reject God’s occupy movement.

Christmas is not about what you offer to God or what you offer to others. It’s not about your occupation of Bethlehem. Christmas is about what God offers to you. To quote my friend, “the incarnation is God’s claim on us, not ours on him. He is the invader.” It’s his occupation. It’s his plan to redistribute the riches of his grace to the oppressed 99%, to you and to me. 

The reason this first occupation was so significant, significant enough that the ripples are still being felt today, is because the infinite God, the one who laid the earth’s foundation, who marked of its dimensions, who laid its cornerstone, this God took on flesh. The [eternal] Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. God occupied humanity in the person of Jesus.   

This wedding of the infinite and the finite in the person of Christ doesn’t mean that God changed into flesh but simply that God, the infinite and unchangeable, took on humanity without changing his original nature. In other words, “remaining what he was, he became what he was not.” This occupation, God with us in the person of Christ, is God’s radical protestation of our condition. It’s the start of his unfathomably beautiful plan through Christ to redistribute heavenly riches to the 99%. 

For God was God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Do you realize how much God the Father has loved you? Have you comprehended the extraordinary lengths he has taken to reconcile you to himself? Spiritually speaking, do you recognize that you are part of the oppressed 99%? Without hope, destitute and spiritually bankrupt? This Christmas can you affirm the hope of Incarnation as expressed in the Nicene Creed?

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.

Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

You waste Christmas if you reject God’s occupy movement, the incarnation of Christ for you.

This Christmas you too have been invited to come to the Bethlehem stable. A place as far from Wall Street as you can get. You come, not to occupy it, but to be occupied. Christmas is not about what you offer to God or what you offer to others. It’s not about your occupation of Bethlehem. Christmas is about what God offers to you. God is the invader. It’s his occupation.

The hope of Christmas is that if God can take on flesh and occupy humanity he can occupy your life. Through Christ his plan is to distribute the riches of his grace and mercy and love and forgiveness to the oppressed 99%, to you. All that God asks is that you join his protest movement, that you too protest your condition and welcome his occupation receiving the one he has sent. This Christmas, through faith in the one God has sent, may the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace occupy your heart and mind multiplying your joy and delight. Merry Christmas.

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