Fulfilled rather than empty

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Tresized image Promo 12he Revd John Proctor, United Reformed Church General Secretary, thanks God for Christmas.

Although Christ Jesus was in the form of God, he emptied himself into the form of a servant, by his birth as one of us. As Philippians 2:7 says: “He emptied himself.”

Emptying, we might think, means becoming less. If a petrol tank is empty, it is not much use. It has no power, no potential, no possibility of taking you anywhere.

Yet there is another way to look at emptying. You empty a watering can and bring life to a garden. In the can, the water was limited and lifeless. Eventually it would just stagnate and evaporate. Yet when it is poured out, the can delivers on its purpose, and the water does too. Both are fulfilled, when they are emptied out.

So was Jesus’ heavenly nature, his home in the heart of God, lost when he was born a human child? Or was his birth a fulfilment rather than a loss, of what it means to be divine? Is the heart of God most truly realised when God reaches out in service, generosity and goodness to others? Is that the meaning of Christmas?

‘The form of God.’ English struggles to find the right word. ‘Form’ isn’t quite right; it focuses on outward appearance, and the original word suggests something deeper than looks or shape. ‘Nature, character, identity, person’ would be nearer. Jesus poured the identity of God into the identity of a servant. He delivered the potential of God’s person and nature. He showed God’s true character, by living in servant form.

Truly God and truly servant. Most visibly God when poured out for others. Giving life in giving out. Fulfilled rather than empty. Not checking out, at Bethlehem, from his relationship with heaven. But living out, in Bethlehem and beyond, the life of God in the life of earth.

Thank God for Christmas.


Picture: Old watering can/Andrew Ebrahim/Unsplash
Published: 23 December 2019

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