“Christ Jesus…Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7)

Do we really have any idea what true power is?

During this second Advent week, I have been reflecting upon the miracle of the sovereign God of the universe emptying himself of his power and position and becoming incarnated in a tiny, powerless baby in Bethlehem.  December 25, we celebrate that event.  The birth of the Christ child – God with us.
I was reminded of this one night this week as I shared an experience with a business leader.  I have shared this before, so my apologies if you have heard it.

About 10 years ago, I was attending a Spiritual Director’s conference in Colorado Springs.  It was held in the Navigators conference centre.  The Navigators are a discipleship ministry.  The writings of their founder, Dawson Trotman, were influential in my faith development, so I visited his grave site which is located on the property.  The gravesite sits upon a high ridge overlooking a valley.  As I reflected upon the spiritual influence of this man, I noticed a shadow passed over me.  I looked up to see a U.S. Airforce Stealth Bomber in a low pass as it headed towards a mountain in the distance where other aircraft were circling.  I realized I was looking at Cheyenne Mountain.  It is the location of the NORAD defense command.  Cheyenne Mountain is a hollowed-out mountain bunker, secured behind multiple blast doors, from which all the branches of the entire U.S. military can be commanded.  During the 9-11 crisis in New York City, Cheyenne Mountain is where President George Bush was taken for safety.   In short, the retreat centre in which I was studying Christian spiritual formation was sitting about 3 miles away from the mountain fortress command centre for the most powerful military force in human history.  What a striking juxtaposition – the very symbol of worldly power just a few valleys away from a centre dedicated to pursuing eternal truth.

So, what is true power?

If you were to travel to Bethlehem today and stand in the city of Christ’s birth, you could look southeast and see about 3 miles away, the remains of another mountain fortress.  It is the Herodian.  The Herodian was the military fortress of Herod the Great who ruled Palestine in the time of Jesus.  If Egypt were to attack, the Herodian is where Herod would retreat for safety.  It was the Cheyenne Mountain of the 1st Century.  I am told that in the early morning when the sun comes up, the shadow of the Herodian fortress falls upon Bethlehem.  So, Jesus was literally born in the shadow of worldly power.

Herod built dozens of spectacular buildings which are now in ruins.  His personal wealth was many times the GDP of the whole nation of Palestine.  Yet, most people have never heard of him.  The child born in his shadow never owned property lived most of his life barely above poverty – yet he changed the world and almost everyone on earth knows his name.

So, what is true power?

True power is not in the things of this world.  True power is found in the things that the world calls weak.  True power is found in the shadows of the strong.  This Christmas give thanks that the creator of the universe itself identifies with us in our weakness, our failures.   Give thanks that through the birth of a tiny babe, he provides a path for us to know, serve and enjoy the most powerful force in the universe – God the Father.

“Like a stone on the surface of a still river,
Driving the ripples on forever,
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe”
(Bruce Cockburn – Cry of a Tiny Babe)

John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
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