Incarnation

I have been itching to relate the Seahawks to faith again. It’s been awhile. But it also feels a little dangerous because now that they are doing so well, I don’t want you to think I only talk about them when they are winning. But I think with Christmas coming, I want to challenge myself to relate their team attitude to the birth of Jesus—whew…..
Something has changed with this team. They are playing like a different group of men. All of the sudden it is like they are one unit. They have each other’s backs again. Earl Thomas is in Marshawn’s face cheering when he has a good run. Defense and offense—united.
There has been speculation as to what is up. Most are crediting a team meeting they had after that loss in Kansas City. Apparently the leaders of the team were gathered together and reminded that there is no “I” in team [I’m oversimplifying—ha]. Some also credit Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin making fun of the NFL in a press conference and standing up for Marshawn when he was fined for not talking to the media. It also helped to get rid of Percy.
But what has caught my eye is that they are playing for each other now. It is always a danger when a team wins a Super Bowl that the next year egos take over and that is one reason experts say it is so difficult to repeat. But somehow they seem to have overcome that self-centeredness and are playing for each other—and they look better than ever, don’t they?
As we approach Christmas, one of the reasons that I enjoy preaching so much, is that the Incarnation—when God took on human flesh and was born in a manger in Bethlehem—is such a beautiful reminder of how God has our backs.
As we have been reading through these great stories in the Bible, there are repeating themes. For the humans, we try to follow God, but then we get distracted by all kinds of other things that we end up turning into our own gods, and then God comes after us to bless us again so that we can be his blessings in this world. As you think about your own life, I bet you can see this pattern again and again, too. You follow God, then you forget about God, then you hear the word again and God captures you again and you follow God some more.
When the Incarnation happened, God had decided that the way I need to come into this world is going to have to be in a way the people will finally know me fully. We had never seen God before—not really, but when Jesus came, we saw God’s face. And we saw a God who would go the distance for us. All the way to the cross. So that those ways we keep turning from God would be put to death on the cross with him. So that God could have our backs fully and completely.
Then things are different. Then we look around and we see the person sitting next to us in church as part of our team. We are in this together. Even though we disappoint each other and even though we keep on sinning and messing up. There is something different. We love each other. Jesus says our love for each other is going to be the thing that shows the world what Jesus is like.
And that is why it is so fun to watch the Seahawks again. Of course, it helps that they are winning. But you can see in how they are playing for each other that they are a team, a unit, that they have each other’s backs.
So think about that this Christmas season. God has your back. God knows you from the darkest brokenness you are stuck in to the light you shine for this world. That is the Incarnation. That is Jesus, Immanuel, God with you.
Merry Christmas.

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