Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, December 18, 2011: 2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16; Psalm 89:1–4, 19–26; Romans 16:25–27; and Luke 1:26–38.
“The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.” – Luke 1:35
I wonder if I should wait and talk about this when we get to the John text where we hear that the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us” but here I am, and this is what I’m thinking about and so I guess I’ll write this now.
I’m sort of reluctant to talk about this, because it is probably where my theology most shifts in emphasis from more traditional, orthodox theologies and indeed, it is what got me in trouble with a faculty member or two in seminary. But it seems so true to me, so important to me, so Orthodox to Christianity… so, well here it is (take it with a grain of salt):
I think that the affirmation of Jesus’ divinity and humanity is probably one of the nuttiest statements one could confess, even though it be true. The whole idea that God, or even some part of God, could somehow become finite in form seems odd enough; but then, to claim that in the very person of Jesus, humanity had equal value to divinity—each being the total of the being, present together as one—is not something that the mind can really handle.
One of my favorite scripture passages is Genesis 1-2:3, where God speaks the world into being. This unimaginably powerful, limitless God “hovers, dances, moves” in the midst of the chaos of the beginning, speaks and the world is ordered—light, earth, animals, plants and humans are spoken into being. The passage leaves me in wonder at the world around me, and at the wondrous God who simply spoke it into existence.
Yet, this is the God that we claim became flesh as John writes, “the Word [which was God] became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) This creator becomes the created, in a way; but yet more, somehow in Jesus Christ, the created is given equal value to the creator. Athanasius argued against Arius, “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”
The nature of Jesus should challenge our perceptions of what is holy, what is of value, and what matters, particularly in a society that devalues the creation to usability and disposability. And that devalues our bodies as manipulable objects to be subjected to diets, surgeries, or whatever to become some image of who we want to be.
The nature of Jesus also makes me reflect on the status of creation as co-creator with God, so that our action and inaction matter to the creation or mis-creation of the world.
And then, this is where I get in trouble: the nature of Jesus—this one fully God and fully human wrapped in a human womb—is where I tend to place God’s redemptive work in Jesus. That God, in Jesus, reconciled divinity with humanity upon his bloody birth into this world. That God, in Jesus, inseparably bound creation up with God. That this incarnation is where God redeemed us and that the cross was our inevitable response to God’s presence in our midst and that the resurrection was the action of God’s ultimate love and commitment to life—abundant, real, and incarnate (in-fleshed, that is).
So there it is: my take on God’s redemptive work: always about life, about incarnation, about God being born—in our midst, again and again and again.
An addendum: Since writing this and putting it out there, I have learned that my heresies are more discrepancies with the Western church and that the Eastern church and I have more in common. Ha! I learn something new every day! Check out this page for more info: http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/general/spirituality/theosis
Featured Image from: First Things check out her blog post: “What Child is This?”
(on a side note: it is sad (though not surprising given our racial biases) to see that nearly all the artsy pictures of newborns easily locatable online are of white babies, while babies of darker hues are not generally featured.)