Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Incarnation: Scratching Our Itches and Blowing Our Noses

Thanks to all for your kind messages and words of comfort and hope following yesterday's post, both here and on Gotta Sing Gotta Pray's Facebook page.

I know that yesterday I said that, because of my experience with my sister in her final days, the hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful always reaches deeply into my heart. This reminded me that unless we do our best to bring our life experiences into the Church's worship, with all of its symbols, that worship can become flat and lifeless.

It makes so much sense to me to have this sentiment at this time of year. There are two operative pieces of theology that have always been rooted at the core of my own belief and my own approach to our life on this earth. The first is summed up in those words in Genesis, "In the divine image, God created them . . . and God looked at everything that had been made and found it very good." This sense of "original grace" has helped me see hope for a world broken too often by sin and division; hope that restorative justice is something that can be real and tangible in our own lives, in our relationships with loved ones, near and far, and in the very way we see the world around us.

The second is contained in what we celebrate as central during these days: the incarnation. God became one of us. Just think about it. Sometimes, like moments when I have an itch that needs to be scratched, or when I have congested sinuses, I think that Jesus had itches that needed to be scratched and sinuses that were congested. I know that these may seem trivial, but they help me put into context the enormity and mystery of the incarnation of the Lord: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

Lately, my feeble brain has been trying to put all of this in the context of cosmology in general. We are but a tiny speck in the enormity of the universe. Someone asked me recently what we would do if we encountered alien life: "Would you baptize them?" I immediately responded, "Perhaps it might be they who want to baptized us." The enormity and possibility is mind boggling. A friend of one of my younger brothers once asked me if I thought that there were other worlds like ours out there and other creatures that God made. He opined, "The way I look at it, it would be like saying that Rembrandt stopped painting, stopped creating, after his first masterpiece. I don't think God stopped with us, his first masterpiece."

As these days unfold and we celebrate the hodie in a few days, let's remember to bring our life experiences into the carols we sing and into the symbols and actions that unfold before us.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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