“For to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a Baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
God’s love for us is so great that as we wait in His presence, praising Him who is perfect love, He descends anew to and into us, drawing us into Himself. We become incarnate of His love, wisdom, and righteousness. We thereby always have love to give back to Him. In “looking, longing, loving, we become like the One we vision.” This is a built-in incarnational principle. C. S. Lewis puts it this way:
In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down…to the very roots and sea-bed of the Nature he has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.
In praise, as in all true prayer and worship, we clothe ourselves anew with the Lord. There is a fresh mantle of His presence. We take on God’s character and take in Christ’s mind. That is, we “put on the New Man” and as a happy corollary we die anew and increasingly to the “Old Man,” which is the old self-in-sinful isolation. In such a union, praise is as natural as breathing.
The great miracle and hope of the incarnation never fails to amaze us as we gaze at the Christ child in His manger every Christmas. Christ living in us reflects Himself in us today. In “looking, longing, and loving” we become like Christ. Simon, the impulsive, becomes Peter the Rock and Mary Magdalene turns from her sin becoming an ardent follower of Christ. The old-self dies and God’s glory shines though us as we embrace the miracle of the incarnation. As Irenaeus wrote in Against Heresies, “the glory of God is a living man.”
Holy God, we open our hearts to You this Christmas as we gaze at You in the manger. We are in awe at the miracle of Your incarnation and we long to reflect Your incarnate glory. Awaken in us a great desire to be transformed into Your image and likeness. Quiet our hearts so that we can “become incarnate of Your love, wisdom, and righteousness.” Help us bring Christ and His radiant Heaven-scented presence into Your world this Christmas.
 John Gaynor Banks, The Master and the Disciple (St. Paul, Macalaster Park Publishing, 1954), 22.
 C.S. Lewis, Miracles, (London: Collins, 1963), 115
 Leanne Payne, Listening Prayer, (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 1995), 38.
Painting: Lorenzo Monaco, 1406-1410, The Nativity, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meditation prepared by Mary Carrington, drawing on the writings and ministry of Leanne Payne.