December 20, 2021
As I write this Monday morning, with all four Advent candles finally lit, I’m thinking about incarnation. The masterful theological statement of John 1 approaches in the lectionary, and the high, holy day or night of Christmas will retell the tale of the God of the cosmos putting on the tiniest, tenderest human flesh.
We know, though, that if the capital-I Incarnation were the whole story, none of us would be working so hard this week to still tell it. God’s act of love and paradox set the pattern for the larger, ongoing Christian life and gave us a lens for seeing the world in general and each other in particular. When you celebrate the big Incarnation, it teaches us to celebrate the smaller incarnations as well, as places where God chooses to come and dwell with us.
That means bodies matter and are blessed by God—their health, their hunger, their shape and color and orientation. It means each of us needs other people, as vessels of the enfleshed love of Christ. It means we have to keep working extra hard, when we’re already tired, to navigate Covid in our ministries. Again. And it means that in a world that’s seemingly hell-bent on destroying itself, the true Christian witness of kindness, respect, hospitality, and justice is as radical and as badly needed as it has ever been.
It was a gift to gather with pastors and a few laity at the district parsonage last week for an open house lunch. Mainly I want you to know that I love and appreciate you, but the biggest gift of the day for me was seeing you together, parked on couches and in corners, deep in conversation, laughing loudly, staying a while. This day continues to be an uncertain time in a whole variety of ways. But—and you’ll hear me keep saying it—we are each other’s resource, each other’s gift from God, each other’s incarnate love.
Tomorrow night, some of you will offer a Longest Night or Blue Christmas service. Some are feeding hungry people and giving gifts of generosity to families. Others are teaching their children to love and serve. Most of us on Friday will sing and worship and light the lights and hope to crack folks’ hearts open. All of you are creating places of joy that will matter deeply to those who receive it. I cannot be more grateful to be a part of that work with you.
May Christmas joy and peace abide with you and the ones you love this week.