Bishop Philip JonesNo doubt, over the past several weeks you have heard and probably sung all kinds of hymns and Christmas carols. I believe they are divided into three different types. One is that it’s cold outside and we need to be warm and jolly. Think “Jingle Bells” or “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. Second, there are hymns and carols about the sweet baby. Think “Away in a Manger” or “Once in Royal David’s City”. Then there is a third kind that highlight the mystery, the incomprehensible and even disturbing realities about the good news of the Incarnation.

For example, in the second verse of “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful” it says, “God from God, light from light eternal, lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb.” This highlights the unimaginable reality that God coming to earth as a baby does not diminish that He is God. Light from light is a way of trying to describe that that which comes to us is no less than what he was originally. Deep stuff.

Then, in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” we hear, “veiled in the flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity” and “born to raise us from the earth, born to give us second birth.” Nothing sappy there. Incredible words about the one who not only identifies with us, but also becomes us so that we can be changed from within with a second birth. Radical inclusivity: He includes us. Profound transformation: He is, in and through us, bringing heaven to earth by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the fifth verse of “We Three Kings of Orient Are” says “glorious now behold him arise, King and God and sacrifice.” The cost of salvation to us is free but it costs God’s Son. He who was peace lost his peace at the cross so we could have peace forever. He who is our judge took our judgment upon himself so that we can have complete access to God forever.

As we head into Epiphany, I hope these words stay with us. They speak of the Word made flesh. Words about the Word.

All of us at AMIA wish you a happy new year and a blessed Epiphany. We hope to see you soon at this year’s Winter Conference in Dallas. Please remember to register by January 18.

With wonder and song,
+Philip