Thursday, January 12, 2017

And he became incarnate of the Virgin . . .

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Saint Irenaeus spoke about the importance of the incarnation (or the enfleshment) of God in Jesus of Nazareth as an absolutely essential part of our coming to know God, to experience the love of God, and to realize the promises of God. It all makes sense when we begin from the assumption that we need to experience God in human terms -- otherwise God remains a far off reality, unrelated to our human experience. It isn't enough that Jesus of Nazareth became human, either, because that was over 2000 years ago -- how am I able to experience a God who is supposed to be present to me through a human that lived long before I was born? The proper theological answer is that I experience God I'm the Risen Lord. True enough. But then, how do I experience the Risen Lord? The answer to that is what makes this incarnation stuff important. We experience the Risen Lord in one another -- as each of us becomes likened to Christ, we can speak Christ into the world and we can experience that Christ in one another. So Christmas isn't so much about the baby in the manger - it is about my ability to know and experience God in the flesh - the flesh and blood of my neighbor in the world - in all of their imperfection. Knowing and experience God then demands that I experience more and more of the people who live in the world. With each added person, I get a better glimpse of the God who has loved us so.

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