The Sacred “And”

The Creation of Adam [Humanity], Michelangelo, segment of The Sistine Chapel, c. 1512
The Creation of Adam [Humanity], Michelangelo, segment of The Sistine Chapel, c. 1512
This Week’s Lectionary Passage:  2 Corinthians 5: 16-21

16From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul starts right off acknowledging Jesus as both divine and human.  That in and of itself is hard for us.  I mean, we like the idea of Jesus coming and walking around in our midst, giving us a much clearer way of understanding what it is we’re supposed to be about.  We like the idea of what sometimes seems to us to be a sort of “semi-human” leading us around and in some satisfactory way “proving” to us that God really does exist.  We like the idea of having someone to emulate.  But, see, Jesus is not a textbook or proof of God’s existence or even a super-hero that we can aspire to be like.  Jesus is fully human, that fully-developed image of the Godself in which we were all created.  Jesus came not to start a religion or even a belief system; Jesus came into our midst, Emmanuel, God With Us, that we might, finally, become human.

But in order to be fully human, in order to become this New Creation about which Paul writes, we have to let go, have to open ourselves to the Divine pouring into us, filling us.  The New Creation is not a denial of humanity.  The coming of God’s Kingdom into our being does not mean that we will become Divine; it means, rather that God’s Spirit, the essence of the Divine will pour into our lives and make us fully human.  St. Athanasius of Alexandria (4th century) supposedly claimed that “Christ became human that we might become divine.”  Now that used to bug me a bit.  It even bugs me when someone refers to another person (or themself!) as “godly”.  I don’t think of myself or anyone else as “like God”.  I actually believe that God pretty much has a monopoly on that way of being.  And yet, if Jesus had NOT come as human, as one of us, then God’s Spirit, the essence of the Divine, would have remained pretty removed and unapproachable for our limited capabilities.  Perhaps Jesus came as human to show us how to open ourselves to the Divine, how to leave room for this pouring in of the sacred and the holy into our lives, how to relate to a God that was never really removed and unapproachable at all. 

The statement says that Jesus came as fully human and fully divine.  The two cannot be separated; otherwise, humanity is removed from God and the Divine remains aloof and inaccessible.  But together, intertwined, eternally connected with a sacred “and”, we become fully human.  We become the one that God created us to be.  We become a new creation, reconciled to God.  We become righteousness, become sacredness, become the essence of God’s Spirit.

So in this Lenten season, be fully human.  Open yourselves to the Spirit of the Divine pouring into your life.  Embrace the sacred “and” of you and God together, Emmanuel, God With Us. 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli

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