Incarnation

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us . . . .

John 1:1, 14a

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As nearly 230 million of us did on Friday, I found myself walking through a downtown shopping district, desperately hoping to “walk-off” a few calories following the previous day’s gluttony.  Hearing the songs of Christmas emanating from hidden boxes in stores and admiring manger scene after manger scene in shop windows and shelves, it is easy to forget that this season that is almost upon us is not so much about a little boy born in a hay-bedecked cradle.  Importantly, the story of Christmas is not about nativity but incarnation. 

 

The idea that the Creator of the cosmos is also the one resting among the creatures of a barn is a lot around which to wrap our minds.  In the above opening to his gospel, the writer of John tries to open us up to this possibility through both the words and the literary structure used at the beginning of his text.  Juxtaposing light and darkness, story and song, the mundane and the mysterious, the gospel writer is preparing the reader to be open to the paradoxical possibility that the impossible just might be possible, that the God “out there” might be found “among us.”  And, if this paradox proves to be the case, the writer implies, then all sorts of unexpected possibilities are before us, including the healing of the sick, the empowering of the powerless, the embracing of our valued physicality, and the injection of new life in a world weakened by all sorts of death. 

 

God’s possibilities in defiance of our anticipated impossibilities are the essence of the incarnation and a radical reordering of our experiential claims and those claims’ assumptions and derivative logic. This reordering is both the message and the continuing mystery of this season of the church year we have just entered, an enduring mystery we will celebrate this week in chapel through song, drama, and story. 

 

Please join us for that theological feast on Wednesday at 6pm in the chapel as we struggle to imagine the impact that the Divine’s physical presence has for our lives and our own presence in the world.

 

For now, enjoy this ancient songwriter’s lovely attempt to grapple with the incarnation:

 

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”
by Aurelius C. Prudentius

 

Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.

 

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