Why an Incarnation

Why an Incarnation December 20, 2012

A response to the #progGod Challenge: Why an incarnation?

Easter gets all the buzz.

But personally, I am less concerned with resurrection and more transfixed by incarnation.

Every year of my life, the sentiment goes stronger, the belief grasps tighter, that it is the incarnation that saves me, that incarnation is the germinating seed containing the healing of the world, that incarnation may be Christianity’s best hope for a relevant future. Easter is not possible without Christmas. In fact, Easter may be just one more manifestation of the incarnation.

Flesh infused with God. God encountering flesh. Holiness embedding itself into a human life and revealing itself with compassion, healing, truth-telling and relentless embrace. I want that.

Give me incarnation before you give me resurrection. The end of my life may be a long way off, but today my life feels like a Bethlehem barn. Hay is scattered everywhere. Children must be fed and nurtured. The list of things to do is longer than the hours in my day. There is no time for reflection. I need to know that mystery resides in the most mundane and profane realities of my life.

Give me incarnation before you give me resurrection. People say they will arrive on a white horse and rescue helpless me. But my 41 years tells me that rescues are temporary. Prison bars are always around the corner, whether erected by myself or others. I need to know that I can fly free within the capacity of my own heart no matter what walls I find. I want to be strong enough to seek freedom for others, not just my own fire escape. I need salvation infusing my flesh, not a knight to come pluck me out of despair.

Give me incarnation before you give me resurrection. Christianity has run its course of triumphalist narratives. It has used up its quota for powerful men speaking arrogant words of salvation. I don’t care about what works in the pulpit on Sunday. I want to hear the voices of women who have born children. I want to hear the voices of children still fresh with the mystery of union. I want to know a faith that works in the classrooms of Newtown, on the streets of Damascus, atop the garbage heaps of Manila.

Give me incarnation before you give me resurrection. I want to love this world before I consider changing it, and I need to be loved as I am before I can be changed. Transformative power resides in love, not domination. Most days, I find it hard to believe that love is the core of my being, the building block of this world. But I am powerless to love if love does not first live in me. Divine love must be born in us today, and again tomorrow, and every day that my hands are dirty and my feet grow tired on this earth.

Give me incarnation. If God is embedded in my flesh, I will not be afraid. If I am one with God at the very foundation of my being, I no longer need to separate myself from pain and suffering. It carries no threat for I am what I hold most dear: undifferentiated union with the love of God.

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