One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the tendency for people to return to a focus on the Incarnation, the act of God becoming flesh. Throughout the rest of the year, it is easy to forget the very tangible physicality of Jesus and put too much emphasis on the spiritual side. Now, I think the intangible side of our lives is incredibly important (see my spirituality blog here), but we are left floating in space without the solidity of body theology to help ground us. So, here are some great thoughts on the Incarnation I’ve run across during the last few weeks. Let’s try to keep these insights close by as we journey into 2012 together. Enjoy!
#1 Jan Johnson – December 2011 Wisbits
The incarnation of God in humanity (advent) reveals the beauty and humility of our God who likes to just plain be with us.
#2 Steve Knight – Incarnational or Missional?
The idea of incarnation is central to the missional shift in the Church and in Christianity. “The risk of incarnation,” as Palmer puts it, is one very beautiful (and biblical) way of describing the invitation we have been given — to join God in the renewal of all things, to participate in the dream of God, to be a part of what God is doing in the world.
#3 Bruce Epperly – Parenting the Divine: A Christmas Mediation
As an early Christian leader proclaimed, the glory of God is a person fully alive. In the incarnation, God was fully alive in the call and response which enlivened Mary, Joseph, and their wee child. They responded to God’s unexpected movements in their lives – bringing forth wonders that pushed them beyond their comfort zones to become partners in God’s holy adventure. They became fully alive, contributing to the unique divine presence in Jesus, by their responses to their angelic visitors.
#4 Ron Cole – Christmas…a revolution birthed in pain
But in the midst, if you really listen humanity groans…for something to be birthed beyond anything we can imagine. Revolutions are birthed in the midst of pain. Jesus’ birth is about the birth of a revolution. It is about a revolution to re-write the narative that would finally recaputure the imagination of humanity.
#5 Chaplain Mike – David Lose on “The Absurdity of Christmas”
He then chronicles several reasons why people find it hard to believe the Christmas story. First, the four Gospels themselves don’t set forth a unified, consistent account of Jesus’ birth. But beyond that sort of Enlightenment style criticism of the text, earlier skeptics found the concept of Incarnation fantastic, even unseemly. As far back as the second century, gnostics like Marcion found Jesus’ full humanity a difficult concept to square with their idea of God. Apologists like Tertullian responded by saying things like, “You repudiate such veneration of nature, do you, but how were you born?” In other words, if God is put off by such things as the messy birth of a baby, what makes us think he cares about real people at all?
#6 Bruce Epperly – Mary, Joseph and Mysticism
God is not aloof, but present in cells, souls, and communities. A one-dimensional faith – defining everything according the tenets of the modern world view – robs life of beauty, wonder, and amazement. The incarnation raises all life to revelation; each moment – even tragic moments – as a potential theophany. Sleepers awake! God is with us!
#7 Chaplain Mike – Frederick Beuchner: “Christmas Itself Is by Grace”
The Word become flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not touching. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God…who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.”