Made Flesh

Scripture Passage:  John 1: 1-14

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

The Word became flesh.  Think about it.  God’s Spirit, God’s breath, the Hebrew language refers to it as ruah, the very essence and being of God was suddenly given flesh and bone and cartilage and hands and feet and all those very human things that we humans require to be here on earth.  In other words, the Divine became human, if only for a while.  That tells us that God does not desire a partner, or a relative, or a close friend.  God desires to live with each of us as one of us.  The miracle of Christmas is not just that God came, although that would be miracle enough.  The miracle of Christmas is that God takes on flesh. 

In The Message paraphrase of the Bible, Eugene Peterson says that “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.”  That’s actually a little disconcerting when you think about it.  That means that you’ll see God when you’re out walking your dog or getting your mail.  It means that you’ll run into God in the grocery store when you’re in a terrible hurry and don’t have time. It means that God will show up at your door when the house is a wreck and you are least expecting visitors.

As the Scripture says, in the beginning was God and in the end will be God and in between?  In between, God is with us.  In between, God is one of us.  In between, is us.  That is the very mystery of Christmas.  So what do we do then with a God who is with us?  God is not limited to this sanctuary or to the places in our lives where we’ve sort of cleaned up a bit.  God comes into place of darkness and places of light.  God comes into profound poverty and into gated communities.  God is with us every step of our lives.  God is one of us in our flesh and our bone.  God has moved in.

So, now it’s our move.  I suppose we could just pick up the Christmas decorations and put them back in the box for another year.  I suppose we could just go back to whatever we define as our normal lives.  But the problem is that God is with us.  God lives with us, here, in the neighborhood.  Everywhere we turn, we will meet God—over and over and over again.  And once you’ve met God, you can’t go back to the way it was before.

The problem with God is not that God comes at times that might be a little inconvenient for us; the problem with God is that God never goes away.  God is all over us.  That first Christmas was God’s unveiling, God’s coming out of the darkness and the shadows and showing us what we could not see before.  God poured the Divine into the lowliest of humanity, into a dirty animal stall, and began to pick us up so we could walk with God. 

And we are asked to follow.  We are asked to become something new.  We are asked to now become the very reflection of the God that is here everywhere.  Thomas Merton once said that “the Advent mystery is the beginning of the end in all of us that is not yet Christ.”  It’s Christmas.  Now is the time.  Let us go see this thing that has happened.

God is closer to me than I am to myself. (Meister Eckhart)

Thank you for joining me on this Advent journey!  I hope it gave you some hope and some light in this very-hard time in which we live right now.  Now I’m going to take just a small break.  BUT…I’m back in  practice, so I’m going to try to continue (but not every day!).  I’ll continue to post at least once a week around the Lectionary passages and maybe sometimes you’ll get an extra post in a week if I just have something else to say! SO, look for a post Sunday morning or earlier for the Sunday after Christmas and then a post for Epiphany Sunday early next week and that will be our plan for now.  Thanks again for joining me! Have a wonderful Christmas! 

Merry Christmas!

Shelli

The Moment of Peace

2016-12-04-peace(Advent 2A) 1Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. 2May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. 3May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. 4May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. 5May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. 6May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. 7In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

18Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. 19Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen. (Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19)

 So, are you awake yet?  Our first week of Advent has been filled with visions of what can be, visions of what God is calling us to be.  And it has awakened us to its possibility if we will only pay attention.  So as the rising light begins to illuminate us, we begin to look around at what needs to change.  And today, we light the candle of peace.  We all dream of peace.  But it seems that we have quit talking about it.  Our talk of peace has become talk of policy and self-preservation.  Our discussions have dwindled to what is best for us rather than prayers for peace for the world.  Have we forgotten peace?  Or have we given up on its possibility?  Or are we so desperately afraid of losing what we have that it is easier to build our walls and secure our borders and wait for someone else to make it happen?

Peace has always been a little elusive.  Maybe it’s because we don’t understand it.  Maybe we are waiting for someone to put their weapons down first so that we will feel safe enough to disarm.  But that’s not peace.  That’s just putting weapons down.  They are still there.  They can still be picked up yet again.  Peace is not just the absence of war; peace is recognition that we are fighting ourselves.  Until we realize that we are all one, until we realize that the “other” is our brother or sister, until we realize that shutting each other out of our lives does not mean that we are at peace, we will still live lives of dis-ease and distrust and disunity.

Peace will not come to be because we sign an arms agreement or because we successfully disarm our enemies or even ourselves.  Peace cannot be sanctioned or governed or even agreed upon.  There is no policy on global relations that will produce peace.  Peace will not be between nations or tribes or even peoples.  Peace will come when each of us is at peace, when each of us feels the reverence of looking at a world that is not ours but one over which we have dominion, responsibility.  Peace will not come because one person thinks he or she can save us or fix us or put us back together again but rather when we realize that none of us are alone and that God is calling a Kingdom into being rather than each individual at a time.  Peace will come when we realize that we are so incredibly interconnected that hurting another is hurting ourself.  Peace will come when we finally see God’s very presence in each others’ lives.

Peace lives in each of us.  But we have to be at peace with ourselves to find it.  So, as we light the second candle today, be at peace.  Today.  In this moment.  Walk in peace.  Reach out in peace.  Sleep in heavenly peace…

 

Our true home is in the present moment.  The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment. Peace is all around us–in the world and in nature–and within us–in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

 

Grace and Peace,

Shelli