Tumbling in the Sand
The text for this reflection/sermon for the first Wednesday service in Advent (December 5, 2012): Luke 22: 14-19
One of the things that may become obvious, or maybe not, looking at Mary’s swelling belly or the infant Jesus lying in a manger is that Christians aren’t much into the “omni-god.” The “omni-god” is what I call the god with all the god attributes: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omni…well, you name it. This omni-god is Plato’s unmoved mover, the one who is unaffected by anything else but is the source of all things.
And, for sure, there is some truth to claiming those attributes are God’s attributes—after all, God is far beyond anything our imaginings can even imagine—and yet—yet… this is not the God we encounter in scripture again and again. Instead, we find a God who weeps over the violence in the world before God sends a flood. Instead, we find a god deeply affected by the creation that God loves. Instead we find a God of love. Instead, we encounter this God who is revealed in flesh—and not just some indestructible flesh, but the flesh of an infant—the flesh of a man pierced on a cross.
As Christians, we claim that that is the full revelation of God. That God is fully revealed in this vulnerable flesh. A God who, in fact, loves us so much as to risk incarnation—becoming fully embodied. Risking becoming broken…
During the season of Advent, we wait for the full revealing of God in this world. Not just for Jesus to be born again in a manger (as though that hadn’t already happened), but that God be fully enfleshed in the world—that the world itself would be made new by the revelation of God in our midst.
Sometimes, though, I think we wait and prepare for the wrong god. We wait and prepare for the omni-god who will swoop in in all power and impose God’s self through force on the world. A god who will snap god’s fingers, so to speak, and make it all perfect and better and not like it is. A god who will remove vulnerability and brokenness while being invulnerable and perfectly whole in god’s self. And so we act in accordance—we view power and perfection as the goal. Not brokenness. Not vulnerability. Not love.
But, that isn’t the God revealed in the dark, cold stable. That isn’t the God revealed in the promise of incarnation. No, instead, the God that we are called to wait for, the God that we are called to prepare for this season and all seasons is the vulnerable God. And in waiting and preparing for this vulnerable incarnation, we are called to become that very thing—we are called to risk incarnation ourselves.
We are called to witness to it. We are called to see it in our midst now. We are called to love it. We are called to embody it. We are called to wait longingly for the full revealing of it.
And “it” is not this all powerful, “perfect” thing. “It” is this incarnation of love that is so vulnerable that it gives itself away to you and to me and to the whole world—”This is my body, given for you.” And it’s pure embodied risk of being broken open and given away entices us to do the same.