A Christmas Message from Our Executive Minister 

A Christmas Message from Our Executive Minister 

We don’t typically read the Gospel of John when we recite the Christmas story each year. Yet it is the opening of John’s Gospel which sums up the beautiful, profound truth of Christmas: “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). 

God’s Word—God’s eternal message spoken from before creation, spoken still to us today—has been embodied in Jesus of Nazareth. As other passages in the New Testament put it, Jesus is “the image of the invisible God,” the one in whom “all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” (Col 1:15, 19); he is “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being” (Heb 1:3). 

In other words, the perfect portrait of God is Jesus. 

This means that the perfect portrait of God is a baby, born of water. Umbilical cord twisting toward his mother. Amniotic fluid matting his dark hair against his olive skin. Eyes tight shut, mouth open, wailing his newborn cry. 

The perfect portrait of God is a child. Toddling, falling, and getting back up. Forming first words—“Abba,” perhaps, or “Imma.” Laughing at silly games, scraping knees in play, being comforted in a young mother’s warm embrace. God’s kingdom belongs to such as these. 

The perfect portrait of God is a teenager. Learning, questioning, questioning again—even the chief rabbis in Jerusalem. Taking on responsibility, taking on independence, taking on hopes and fears to guide his years ahead. God’s kingdom belongs to these as well. 

The perfect portrait of God is a young adult, born of spirit. Living and loving, laughing and lamenting among kith and kin in a small village in Galilee. Acquiring his father’s craft, creating something out of nothing but a bit of formless wood or stone. 

The perfect portrait of God is a grown human, fully alive. Devoted to God in faith, committed to others in love, tenacious in hope for good things to come. Doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with God. The whole Law is summed up in these things. 

The perfect portrait of God is Jesus. And this changes everything. 

God is not in the earthquake, not in the storm, not in the fire—but in the still silence of a sleeping baby, a mother’s gentle whisper. 

God is not in our chariots and horses, our instruments of power and death—but in our acts of tender love and humble compassion. 

God is not in our strength, nor in our riches, nor in our wisdom—God is in the poor in spirit, the humble in heart, in those who must rely on God even for their daily bread. 

God is not in our might and power—but in the Spirit, God’s persistent yet gentle wind of peace. 

God is not in our impressive words written or spoken—but in the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth. 

God is in a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. 

On behalf of the staff that serve us together as Mennonite Church Manitoba, let me extend our heartfelt wish for each of you, that you would know the hope, peace, joy, and love of God revealed in Jesus this Christmas. 

Michael Pahl 
Executive Minister 
Christmas 2022