Some Thoughts on Christmas: “He Humbled Himself…”
“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2: 5-11
The passage before us today is not usually thought of as a Christmas text, but it ought to be, for it speaks most eloquently of what we celebrate during the season of Advent: the incarnation of our Lord.
One thing you can say about Christmas without fear of contradiction is that it is many things to many people. The ancient pagans of northern Europe held at the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, a festival of light to express their defiance of the darkness and their faith in the return of the Sun in the Spring. It is perhaps not wholly inappropriate that the medieval Church chose to transform that feast by co-opting it for the celebration of the coming into the world of the true Light that enlightens every man. For modern Americans it is a time of tradition, of family, of the indulgence of their commercial impulses; for those who are believers it is above all a time to remember the birth of our Lord. Even that story has many facets: it is a tale of love, a tale of wonder, a tale of redemption. We usually focus on those aspects of the story, but this passage presents to us one more: the story of Christ’s birth, of his incarnation in human flesh, also provides us with a critical and important example. We are to have in ourselves this attitude that Christ had when he emptied himself, took on the form of a servant, and was born in a barn to a lower middle class couple who used a feeding trough as his first cradle.
Click here to download the rest: Sermon on Philippians 2:5