Thursday, December 10, 2020

Hope in the Age of Darkness: Gifts of the Incarnation

John 1:14-18

“The Word became flesh and lived among us.” John gives us such an incredible image of God in the opening chapter of the fourth gospel. It is an image of this divine Word (“logos”, in Greek) that exists from before the beginning and will exist forever after time, as we know it, will exist. This is the Alpha and Omega of the Revelation to John that we shared yesterday.

This is the Alpha and Omega made known in human flesh. It is the story of the incarnation of God.

Incarnation, as appears in the subtitle for each day’s devotional, is the theme of the season. It is about God who dwells with us as Emmanuel … which means “God is with us!”

It has taken me most of my life to make sense of this unfolding reality, but the incarnation is not just about the Christ poured into the person of Jesus. It is also about how Jesus poured that Christ out upon his followers. This is perhaps the greatest challenge to our understanding of Jesus.

Fr. Richard Rohr says that, for Christians, “Jesus is the central reference point.” This is where we get this profound image of Jesus as the Christ … the child of God that brings us into an intimate relationship with God. But we tend to want to leave this understanding of Christ at that level … just housed in the person of Jesus.

John tells us that this Word that has become flesh in Jesus is poured into us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. (see John 20:22) And in this passage we read: “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” The gift of grace … the presence of Christ … is manifested in all of us.

We are challenged to awaken to the presence of Christ all around us. God is enfleshed in the eyes of children as they soak up the wonder of the season of waiting and hope. God is enfleshed in the faces of those who so lovingly pour out their gifts and lives serving as frontline healthcare workers in a pandemic as severe as we are experiencing. God is enfleshed in first responders who often risk their own safety to care for those stricken with disaster.

And the gospels tell us that God is deeply enfleshed in the eyes of the poor and marginalized. God is made known through people who are struggling in a downturned economy, and God is made known through you and me.

“The Word became flesh and lived among us!” Is there any news greater than this?

Lord, you come to us in the person of Jesus, and you come to us in the face of so many. Awaken us to your presence made incarnate throughout your creation. Amen.

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