We have now adjourned from the time of Advent, exited Epiphany, and are now fully in the incarnation of Christ living amongst us. I can’t think of a better time to contemplate what it is that “incarnation” looks like and what it could mean for all of us (not just Christians), this union of God and humanity.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
John 1; 1-5, 14 (emphasis mine)
If there is one thing which I truly loathe in this world (and there is definitely more than one), it is the idea of arrogant and elitist exclusion. The notion that there are special snowflakes set apart from the rest of us plebs who feel entitled to better treatment, especially if it’s to the detriment of others, is infuriating. It brings to mind that nineties SNL sketch where the whole bit was Kevin Nealon responding to every perceived slight with that Jersey attitude of, “What? You think you’re better than me?!” While not nearly as impulsive or aggressive, that reaction is not terribly unlike my own regarding the arbitrary divisions that have been built between clergy & laity (arbitrary divisions of all kinds that hurt others are not okay, but I’m trying to stay on topic). Any religious institution which divides its members into class systems and places more value on one than the other is not one whose religious foundation can claim to be built on the love of God. Why? Because such distinctions which put clergy in a position of unquestionable authority and sanctified power over “regular” people breeds environments that more easily permit abuse & corruption. Hierarchy has no place in a truly loving & healthy spiritual relationship. Furthermore, Christ did not put himself above his disciples, above the prostitutes and tax collectors, above children, or any other class of people. Our modern church power structure is not one modeled on the life & ministry of Christ as he lived it while he inhabited our world. Everyone was equal in the eyes of Christ regardless of education, wealth, nationality, sex, age, or social standing. The longstanding divisions that have been created between the “holy” and “profane” have manipulated the dominant theological opinions held by so much of Western Christianity which proclaim that everything of human origin is by nature evil and wholly cut off from God. This kind of theology professes that you, in your current earthly state, cannot be good enough in God’s eyes no matter what you do. Which is precisely why you need other, better, men to talk to God on your behalf and you may just luck into Heaven after all.
I resent and resist that kind of theology. I believe that we are all capable of meeting God and being met by God and we do not have to have a specialized degree, or title, or collar, or building in order to do so. We can employ sacraments and engage in sacred spaces wherever we feel the Spirit, no matter how mundane or “profane” a space we happen to be in, because God is both transcendent and incarnate, not in spite of our natural circumstances. God dwells amongst us at all times, not in some remote and far off place apart from our messy existence. I feel that is the big-picture message that God was trying to communicate via the Incarnation – that God can and God will come down to our level in every facet and form we can imagine. That there is not, actually anything inherently obscene about merely being human, but that there is, in fact, something sacred that can be drawn out from our human experiences.
I mean, how can you believe that God was willing and eager to take on human flesh; live amongst us AS us; live and love the diseased of mind & body; undergo brutal violence and shameful death, and yet would somehow NOT treasure these fleshy vessels we each carry with us? How could our fragile beauty not be held as something precious & valuable by the one who experienced it firsthand? Surely our God who continues to live with us now could not regard this earth as anything less than sacred. Surely every inch of light and darkness is imbued with that Holy Spirit.
We wouldn’t bother to remember Christ’s own physical incarnation each week through communion if there wasn’t something holy about being in human skin. I believe that we are born wearing all the qualifications we need in order to be in communion with that same God simply by virtue of inhabiting these earthly bodies. I see no need for any intermediary between myself and my God. I have no use for divisions between secular and sacred. Neither did God when taking on human form nor as the Holy Spirit dwelling amongst us all now. The Incarnation was an eternal communion between Spirit and humanity that continues even now. One Body, One Blood, One Spirit. Amen.
+ Katie +