In The Flesh
I've been thinking a lot lately during this season of Lent about one of the most important (in my opinion) of all our Christian beliefs: the belief that through Jesus Christ, God became one of us.
This belief is known as the Incarnation, a word with Latin roots that essentially means "in the flesh."
The Incarnation is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith. To say that Jesus was both fully human and fully God isn't something that should just trip off the tongue lightly. But it also is perhaps one of the most deeply transformative beliefs that Christians can offer to the world.
Think about it. Because of Jesus, God intimately knows what it is like to be us. God knows what it's like to mourn, to hunger and thirst, to feel frail, suffer loss and even to experience the seeming absence of God.
In other words, there is nothing that you could experience or endure that God has not already felt. God gets it. Which means any attempt to water down or domesticate the Incarnation and the "Christ Mystery" does violence to the Gospel.
Author Dorothy Sayers once wrote, "To make of his story something that could neither startle, nor shock, nor terrify, nor excite, nor inspire a living soul is to crucify the Son of God afresh."
And to take this a bit further... the Incarnation speaks to us about how "matter matters" to God. God saw all of Creation as "good," and then honored it by entering fully into it through Jesus the Christ, the Logos, the Creative Word of God.
Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (a 13th century theologian) believed that Jesus was "the essential unity of matter and spirit, humanity and divinity," and that the mystery of the Incarnation was the "template model and goal" for all of Creation.
The Apostle Paul wrote about this very thing in his letter to the Colossians:
Everything of God gets expressed in [Jesus], so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. - Colossians 2:9-10
As we begin the fourth week of the season of Lent, spend some time today reflecting deeply on the great mystery of the Incarnation, and what it means for you. Rejoice in the knowledge that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ knows our struggles, joys, doubts and fears.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.