Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Fifth Day of Christmas---Practice Incarnation

The Word became flesh, we say, and marvel this time of the year at a baby holding all of God and all of humanity. We speak of "incarnation" as if it were something God did and we are somehow separate from it. We celebrate flesh and we denigrate it, often in the same moment.

We use "body-mind-spirit" as a marketing phrase and yet it seems most of us count each of those as distinctly separate "things," each important and somewhat connected but existing alone.

I bristle at the notion that we are merely spirit trapped in material. I bristle at the notion that we are only body, an animal with a particular personality. Without breath (ruach, pneuma, spirit) we are, in fact just a pile of water and some protein and carbon compounds. Without a body, we are just wind.

We proclaim Jesus fully human and fully God. Maybe we need to remember that we are fully body and fully spirit.

Just as I've said this Christmas season that there is a cost to following the Christ child and it include the ever-present shadow of the cross, I'll now say this notion of Incarnation is tightly connected to Resurrection.

The poet Wendell Berry has encouraged us to "practice resurrection" and this has become a personal mantra. I've asked performers working with me to do so as a movement meditation before rehearsals begin.

And today, it occurs to me that it might be just as important to "practice incarnation," and all the ways that might matter to those around us. If we teach that Christ took on flesh for the salvation of the world, we might consider that we are likewise enfleshed for reasons other than our own amusement.

Practice incarnation. Practice resurrection. Practice birth, rebirth, life.

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