Jim Wallis on Christmas and the Incarnation
As we draw closer to the 25th, let’s wait with joyful expectation for the “celebration of the Incarnation.”
Regardless of your opinion of Fox News or what Wallis calls “civil religion,” I really like the way he describes the Incarnation as the real point of Christmas. Here’s an excerpt:
What is Christmas? It is the celebration of the Incarnation, God’s becoming flesh — human — and entering into history in the form of a vulnerable baby born to a poor, teenage mother in a dirty animal stall. Simply amazing. That Mary was homeless at the time, a member of a people oppressed by the imperial power of an occupied country whose local political leader, Herod, was so threatened by the baby’s birth that he killed countless children in a vain attempt to destroy the Christ child, all adds compelling historical and political context to the Advent season.
The theological claim that sets Christianity apart from any other faith tradition is the Incarnation. God has come into the world to save us. God became like us to bring us back to God and show us what it means to be truly human.
That is the meaning of the Incarnation. That is the reason for the season.
In Jesus Christ, God hits the streets.
It is theologically and spiritually significant that the Incarnation came to our poorest streets. That Jesus was born poor, later announces his mission at Nazareth as “bringing good news to the poor,” and finally tells us that how we treat “the least of these” is his measure of how we treat him and how he will judge us as the Son of God, radically defines the social context and meaning of the Incarnation of God in Christ. And it clearly reveals the real meaning of Christmas.
The other explicit message of the Incarnation is that Jesus the Christ’s arrival will mean “peace on earth, good will toward men.” He is “the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace.” Jesus later calls on his disciples to turn the other cheek, practice humility, walk the extra mile, put away their swords, love their neighbors — and even their enemies — and says that in his kingdom, it is the peacemakers who will be called the children of God. Christ will end our warring ways, bringing reconciliation to God and to one another.
(Read the full article here.) Wallis has it right when he highlights Jesus’ emphasis on caring for the poor and being peacemakers. This is why I believe body theology is about more than just the way we see our bodies or think about and experience our sexuality. Jesus did not “become flesh” just to be human but to do–to redeem and bring to completion all that we as “bodyselves” were created to be and do. Body theology is about who Jesus is, who we are as God’s family, and how we should respond because of who Jesus is and who we are. Body theology is about both identity and activity. Christmas is a time to remember Jesus’ identity as divine-becoming-human. Hearing this good news, how will you respond?