A2 Advent Devotional • December 13, 2010
by Sue Plumb Takamoto
Christmas in Japan is one of the busiest times of year for Asian Access missionaries. It is the season when Japanese are the most open to hearing the Gospel because of their interest in Christmas and its origin.
Several years ago I began praying with a Japanese Christian friend about teaching a special Christmas English Bible study and craft class for non-Christian women in our community. We were excited as fifteen ladies came to the four weeks of study. We made snowmen out of baby socks, cloth wreaths, and read and studied about the first-ever real Christmas.
The second week we read Luke 2:1–7: Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem because of the census . . . Mary needing to deliver a baby . . . and no room in any hotels, so they delivered the baby in a manger. A story most of us have heard so many times.
Near the end of the study that morning, the ladies shared with a partner what they’ve learned. As I walked around the room, I noticed my neighbor friend Naomi had tears in her eyes. She shared with her partner and me that she had always had an image of God as a tyrant, who tells people to go here or go there, to go to heaven or hell. Hearing this story, she was so touched to realize that her image of God was wrong. That God became human just like us . . . with an incredibly normal birth . . . that Jesus actually was a little baby, born in a dirty stable. She said, "this changes everything I thought about God."
God became like us, and knows all about the ins and outs of daily life. This is the beauty of the incarnation, isn’t it? Our favorite ministry verse is John 1:14: "The Word became flesh, and moved into the neighborhood." Hallelujah for a Savior born as a baby who knows what it’s like to move into this world, with all of its challenges, joys, and sorrows. He understands the ins and outs of friendship, rejection, stressors, family challenges. He abides with us through these things. Hallelujah for such always-ness and constant, steadfast love.
Madeline L’Engle writes:
"I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present."
The Incarnation is a celebration of this reality—the presence of God coming to us. And staying with us through thick and thin. As Naomi and these ladies have been finding out, and as you and I know—truly, knowing the Incarnate Jesus changes everything.
Sue Plumb Takamoto
Church Multiplication Missionary