Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Consequences of Incarnation - Christmas I 2016

Being human has consequences.

While (or just before) angels were singing to shepherds watching their flocks by night, a young woman, a teenager by most estimations, was giving bloody birth to a child in less than optimum conditions.

Our story goes that this newborn was God incarnate. In-carne. God made of meat.

This baby, named Jesus by his mother and her betrothed, was all the mess any other baby is at birth. He had to be cleaned up before he was wrapped in swaddling clothing.

No doubt, his diapers stank.If Jesus was a child like any of us, he had a colds, scraped his knees, and knew all manner of hardships a child might experience in first century Palestine.

Because those are the bare minimal consequences of being meat. We bleed, perspire, vomit when we're sick. We defecate, urinate, expectorate, ejaculate. We're gross.

It's a wonder, really.

Our story goes that the God of all creation became meat and all the mess that entails.

Stinky diapers and runny noses, yes, but also the world of the senses, experienced within the nerves running through the meat. One might argue that the God who created everything would know the scent of roses and the softness of skin and the music of birds and depth of a starry night.

But can God, who is the fullness of creation, understand hunger? And would  a pot of stew smell as good until you experienced hunger?

This meatiness is frail and strong, able to feel pain and ecstasy. We are full of healing capacity and ultimately corruptible. 

I am about equal parts full of faith and full of doubt bout these stories, but they have shaped and are shaping my life. Today we tell the story of baby Jesus, who we also say was fully human and fully God. Full of glory and full of frailty.

I am pondering this year the consequences of it all, because there were, are, will be consequences.

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