A Letter from the General Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery
The Great Exchange
December 22, 2016
The apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus’ coming turns our lives – indeed our world – upside-down:
“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)
John Calvin speaks eloquently of how Christ’s coming grants us the blessings of heaven that the Son set aside, even though they were rightly his, in order to reveal the depth of God’s love for us:
“This is the wondrous exchange made by his boundless goodness:
Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself children of God.
Having descended to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven.
Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality.
Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength.
Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches.
Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness.”
(Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV.17.2, tr. Henry Beveridge, alt.)
In its liturgy for Christmas Day, our Book of Common Worship invites us to join in this prayer:
God Most High,
your only Son embraced the weakness of flesh,
to give us power to become your children;
your eternal Word chose a dwelling among us,
that we might live in your presence.
Grant us a spirit of wisdom
to know how rich is the glory you have made our own,
and how great the hope to which we are called
in Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
in the splendor of eternal light,
God forever and ever. Amen.
This Christmas, may we recognize with new clarity, great joy, and unspeakable gratitude just how magnificently the gift of Christmas has changed everything for us. No matter how long we have knelt at the manger, there is still more for us to comprehend of the greatness of heaven’s gift that it presents to us. And the more we grasp its wonder, the more we know the greatness of our privilege and responsibility to share this Good News with others in word and deed. We can never speak the same or act the same again.
Just a baby with his family, just shepherds with their animals, just a stable with its manger. Just this, yet so much more than human minds can comprehend. O come, let us adore!
Wishing you a truly blessed Christmas,
The Rev. Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, General Minister
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