I think we should all be a bit more materialistic this Christmas. No really. We so often talk about finding the spirit of Christmas, but the actual Christmas story is about the Spirit finding flesh and blood. John described the incarnation this way, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God, who is completely other, transcendent, became one of us at Christmas. In doing so, he declared once and for all that matter matters (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Now, obviously, the incarnation isn’t saying that only the material aspect of this world is important. No one has ever relied more on the spiritual side of life than Jesus Christ. But Jesus also made plain that the spiritual and the physical are anything but enemies of one another. He fed the hungry; he gave sight to the blind; he touched the leper. In every instance, the physical not only gave testimony to the spiritual, but was tied up with it. Physical healing served as the evidence of God’s kingdom come. Even at his departure, Jesus left his church with the most physical reminders of his presence: the cold, wet waters of baptism, the warm, delicious taste of the bread, the deep, crimson color of the wine. The physical and spiritual inseparably tied up together.
So, this Christmas, some of us need to be a little more materialistic. That is we need to value the matter we find around us. No, I don’t mean all the gadgets and gizmos we find for sale in the market, but the salespeople we meet, the beggars we pass, the neighbor we greet, the family we welcome home. Each and every one of them a soul, yes, but a soul that enlivens flesh and blood. Matter that matters enough to God for him to become one of us. May they be important to us, as well.
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? – James 2:15-16.