catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 2, Num 24 :: 2003.12.19 — 2004.01.01


Simply this

The idea of incarnation—of God’s becoming enfleshed, human, finite—is not limited to Christianity. Incarnation appears as a significant theme of Hinduism where Vishnu, the preserver, incarnates again and again (most recently as the Buddha) when humanity’s waywardness has gone beyond what the Divine can countenance. But Christianity’s insistence on God’s taking human form is foundational. And problematic. How much ink, and regrettably blood, has been spilled on how the Divine is present in the creation through the Incarnation? Perhaps too much for any more words to be spent, nevertheless . . .

For me, the Incarnation in Jesus is a turning point in the Divine-Human journey because it so emphatically makes clear that Christianity must take seriously this life, this world, this reality. Why? For the simple reason that God has. God loves this world so much that God does not remain in transcendent, detached splendor, but rather sacrifices that distance to be immersed in bodies and toil and speech and feasting and fasting and praising and lamenting and healing and . . .

Far too much Christian effort has deteriorated into little more than alleged insurance against where one will spend eternity, a matter about which little can be known for certain and which distracts us from that which we can do something about—the world into which God incarnated Godself out of love. God did not so love the world only that we may be assured of a place apart from it when we die, but that we might also love the world and labor and love for its healing and wholeness, its justice and compassion, right here, right now, right where we are.

Christmas is the time to turn, as God did and as God does, from other worldly concerns to this world, in all its wonder and possibility, all its need and delight, all its absurdity and pomposity, all its profane and splendorous reality. If that?s not what Emmanuel means, I’m not sure I could go on.

May this Christmas be for one and all a turning point, a Bethlehem, where new possibilities and wonder are born!

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