The Festival of the Incarnation.
A celebration of God’s enfleshment and embodiment.
As I’m reflecting on Christmas and preparing myself to lead my community in the celebration of the birth of Christ, I’m considering the connections between the festival of Christmas and the community of faith.
The church, as the body of Christ, is an embodied thing. We bring our selves to worship. We join in community with one another. We exist in relationship together. I sincerely hope we come together over certain common beliefs, even if peripherally, we disagree about many other things.
That last point is what I’m considering in particular today. Because it’s deeply consequential that we say that God became human. It means that God reveals Godself most completely as a human. And not just a human, but God entered this world as an infant—the very embodiment of vulnerability and dependency. To an unwed teenage mother—another vulnerable person. To a family who became refugees in Egypt—yet another marginalized group—to escape Herod’s terror being visited upon the infant boys in Bethlehem.
To me, this makes God’s connection and concern for the most vulnerable, the most marginalized, and the furthest outcast from our society undeniable. When we say that God entered into our existence as a baby, that means something.
I believe this is one of those certain common beliefs that I hope we come together around as a community of faith.
If the church is the body of Christ; and we assert, as St. Paul does in 1 Corinthians that, “If one member of the body suffers, all members of the body suffer with it;” then I believe we have a scriptural mandate to hold particular concern for and show explicit care to vulnerable, outcast, and marginalized groups, as God does, particularly children, the homeless, unwed parents, refugees, and all others seeking relief from their suffering.
My prayer this Christmas season is that we strive to more fully comprehend the consequence of the Incarnation. As a body made up of human members, the body of Christ is far from perfect, nor is it able to be fully immune to basic human fallibility. However, we can try to live better together. We can commit to disagreeing well together and seeking to build bridges across our peripheral differences from our places of shared convictions.
Being in community together is a noisy, messy, and wild thing.
So it is also with babies, born among livestock, resting their heads on beds of hay.