Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC

Tuesday, December 19

By Suzanne Matheny

The Mystery of Incarnation

Read: Luke 9:46-48

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest. (Luke 9:46-48)

The disciples were in a power struggle, not unlike what we observe in society today or in ourselves. From earliest days, this “lust for power has entrapped and corrupted the human spirit” (Henri J.M. Nouwen*). Often God intervened omnipotently, but eventually made a covenant, giving more responsibility to humans. Ultimately, God would offer healing through baby Jesus who later taught that in welcoming himself, we welcomed the One who sent him. But why through a weak, sweet, adorable and powerless baby did God choose to come? 

Nouwen suggested the mystery of the incarnation is that God became so powerless to be dependent on humans to welcome, feed and nurture him, and to proclaim the Good News – thus, ironically through powerlessness disrupting the walls of power and desires to be always first or in control. When our quest for power and superiority causes our lives (socially, politically or religiously) to become divisive and diabolic, surely God must still weep.


Omnipotent God, You came in powerlessness with powerful news of healing. We, too, live in troubling and divisive times when it seems the lust for power is evident all around and in us. We and this world need your healing and hope. May we in this Advent season, welcome again this sweet, adorable baby, and may we humbly and joyfully receive and proclaim Your Good News of love and redemption. Amen. 

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*J.M. Nouwen. Power, Powerlessness, and Power. Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life.  (Nashville: The Upper Room, January/February, 1995), pg.34-44.