Incarnate

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 2; 150, Zechariah 2:10-13, 1 John 4:7-16, John 3:31-36
Christmas readings:
Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12), John 1:1-14


Many powerful words have been written about the Incarnation, that is the coming of Christ into the world. We celebrate it on Christmas with song, light, food, and gifts. According to Luke, angels appeared to announce the Christ child and wise men traveled far to honor him. Every year the truths and traditions and myths and merriment surrounding that event remind us its wonder.

Most new parents only feel like the fate of the world rests on their decisions. Imagine being Mary or Joseph, and knowing you were responsible for raising the Son of God. Imagine being in awe of the holiness of this child.

How many dirty diapers did it take to dull that shine?

The gospels say little of the childhood of Jesus. There was his Home Alone moment when his parents lost him for three days, but that turned out all right. Childhood and adolescence probably don’t add much to a messianic reputation. Potty-training and nose-picking. Tantrums. Hormone-fueled moodiness.  Acne. By the time the adult Jesus attended that wedding with his mother in Cana, she certainly didn’t treat him like a fragile, holy snowflake: “They’re out of wine. Do something already.”

And that’s the beauty of the incarnation. It frees us to see the holy in the every day – in the muck and mire. Our solidarity with the poor, the ill, and the grieving doesn’t exist so we can bring holiness into their lives: our job is to see the holiness already there and join hands with it. We create beautiful physical sanctuaries to represent our love for our God, but they are incomplete without the grimy, sweat-stained, tear-streaked spiritual sanctuaries we build around each other. We are incomplete if we never share in the holy, stinking mess of each other’s lives.

A wise person once told me children are cute so parents don’t kill them as teenagers. Enjoy this Christmas, this newborn Christ. Let these memories and feelings sustain you when Christ is more demanding, even unpleasant. Maybe then when you search for the face of Christ in others, the holy will be easier to see.

Comfort: God is everywhere.

Challenge: Examine whether there are situations your faith leads you, but you avoid because they are impractical or messy.

Prayer: Glorious Creator, may I see Your face in all of creation. Amen.

Discussion: What parts of Christianity do you find difficult?

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