God With Us
Posted on: Dec 10, 2019
Incarnation is one of those churchy words we hear at this time of year. “Jesus is the incarnation of God,” the preacher may say. An even more abstract phrase is, “We celebrate the Word incarnate at Christmas.” I suspect that most folks who sit in the pews most Sunday morning — let alone those who appear only on Christmas Eve — can’t say much about what such phrases mean.
The word “incarnation” actually expresses something very important to people of faith. When used as an adjective, “incarnate” commonly describes something that takes the form of a human body. So we talk about the birth of Jesus as “God incarnate” — God taking on a human form.
Several decades ago I encountered the possibility that all of creation embodies something of the sacred. So all individuals possess something of God within them. All people can participate in the incarnation of God.
We all know people who don’t demonstrate any aspect of a loving God. So how can we say God is within all people?
Let’s start with Jesus, the person who grew up and walked and talked and did all the other things humans do in a place called Galilee. Christians call Jesus “Savior” because he showed in his life and ministry and death the most complete way for persons to practice God’s love and grace. Jesus shows us the fullest way to be human — to be a child of God — to be the kind of person God wants us to be.
Those who don’t demonstrate any aspect of a loving God prevent or deny the possibility that God can actually live in them. It isn’t that God isn’t there. It’s that they block the presence of God within them.
So as we celebrate Christmas, let’s not limit our images to the legend of a baby lying in a feeding trough. Rather, let us celebrate how we learn from Jesus how God is incarnate in all human life.
God is in all of us, calling us to be all we can be in all our relationships with others in each moment. The more fully we answer God’s call, we will more fully incarnate God in our lives — in that moment and all the moments that follow.
May this Christmas season be a blessing to you and to all whom you love.