Hips, Holidays and Heaven

HIPS: Many of you know that back in September I underwent hip replacement surgery. The comeback has been steady, and we are all well-pleased with the results. Still, a question, or rather the answer to a question, has continued to float through my heart and mind. Numerous folks asked a variation of the same question, both before and after, “How are you with having your hip replaced?”
 
My initial answer has never wavered, “I’m fine, but I grieve for my lost hip. It was a faithful servant for six decades!” And that’s the truth. A strange response to most, I know. But I felt a genuine sense of loss, a part of myself deceased. Removed. Lost. While it isn’t a crisis – no tears have been shed nor sleep lost – it does have meaning.
 
HEAVEN: You and I are a God-created combo platter of body and soul. Adam was not a livingbeing when the Lord formed his body. It wasn’t until the Lord breathed the breath of life into him that he became a living being, the first of a long, long line. Death itself is the separation of the body from its soul, the soul from its body. Popular conceptions of eternity often consist of hazy half-truths of ephemeral, shimmering, intangible spirits floating through the unseen dimensions. Those are not ideas informed by Scripture. The promised Resurrection is a re- attaching of the soul to a reanimated, glorified body, one changed but very much recognizable, able to do the most physical of things. Jesus, the firstfruit of this Resurrection, returned eating, drinking, touching and handling. He challenged His followers accordingly, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39). And we are promised that we shall be like Him! And it will be Heavenly!
 
HOLIDAYS: This body-soul combination directly informs the Christian’s celebration ofChristmas. What is Christmas all about? With great reverence for Linus and his riveting, inspired speech to Charlie Brown in the television classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas, he doesn’t cover the full spectrum of “what Christmas is all about.” Nor could he. John, writing his Gospel account years after Luke, adds more:
 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
 
We have seen His glory, John says, because He was imminently visible. The eternal Word, the One and Only, the underlying Foundation of all that exists, the Founder Himself, became flesh. That flesh was capable of being broken, even of death. But the eternal Word, the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, wrapped Himself in flesh in order to illuminate for us what God is really like. Not what we think He might be like, but what He is – really, really. He became flesh so that He could serve as a qualified substitute for you, for me, for all our failed humanity. Broken for our brokenness. Death for our death. Somber? Oh yes. Absolutely. But also cause for celebration! Because He bodily, physically, historically rose from the dead to demonstrate exactly what you and I can trust will be the case for us as well! And for all who place their confidence and trust in Christ Jesus alone! Oh glorious Day!
 
So, this Christmas, enjoy every sight, every sound, every smell, every taste, every touch. Savorthem, knowing that these are pale reflections of what will one day be ours in and through and because of our Jesus – completeness, with hips, Heaven and unending, eternal holidays. Christmas Himself, body and soul, forever and ever and ever and a day. Christ is born! Christ is risen! Christ is coming again! Happy Christmas! Happy Christmas to all! Happy Christmas indeed!

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