Christmas Day—Year C, Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12), John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word spoke and creation burst forth from the chaos.
In the middle was the Word, and the Word became flesh in the covenant, in the sacred words of the law that were the way of life.
And as time went on, the people struggled, and in the struggle was the Word, as the prophets called the people to remember what it meant to be a treasured possession of the Divine.
And there came a time, in the fullness of time, when the Word became tangled in words, and it ceased to move hearts. That happens sometimes. You talk and you talk and you talk and you listen and then listen some more, and the more words that are spoken, the less understanding that is achieved. The more words that are spoken, the greater the distance grows. The more words that are spoken, the more the other seems an absolute mystery to us.
Sometimes, there can come a time, when the words simply fall short, and in the fullness of that time, the Word made a different choice…the Word became flesh. The Word became something you could see and touch and hear and feel and smell and taste. The Word became the eyes that could pierce our defenses, the hand that could heal us, the ear that could hear our yearnings, the Word became the feet that we could bathe with our oil and tears alike, the nose that was not afraid of the stench of death, the Body and Blood that was sweet to our lips.
The Word became flesh and that which we could not understand became One whom we could simply love, and what had been a monologue of God speaking to creation became an intimate, intimate conversation, life engaging with life, love embracing love. This Word made flesh would speak so very much without ever having to say a word. This Word’s life would say all that needed to be said. This Word’s life would draw us into itself in a way that words never could.
And it wasn’t just a colossal misunderstanding that God was trying to clear up in this leap into flesh, but it was a divine yearning for intimacy that propelled God to take this insane risk. Why else would God commit Godself to such utterly insane vulnerability? Why else would God throw in the Divine lot with our frail, broken, finite human condition? Why else would the Infinite agree to such constriction? God’s fingerprints are already all over creation in the act of creation itself; the Word spoke and creation was, so why go this next step? Because God isn’t just the Divine Artist in Residence content to admire the works of the Divine hands, but God is a lover, and a lover is never content until it becomes one with its beloved. I am not sure that God understood the fullness of the challenge that such love would entail; lovers who take such flying leaps rarely do, but the moment the Word became flesh, God was all-in.
Never again would distance be possible with humanity. The window had been thrown open, God would know the fullness of our humanity, and we finally would embody the fullness of the divinity that has always been our birthright. It’s one thing to know you have such an inheritance; it is quite another to see and touch and hear and feel and smell and taste it in the flesh.
When the Word became flesh, the Word became a conversation, a give and take between divinity and humanity where both are changed by the other. Our humanity is filled with the glory of God, and God’s divinity is radiant with vulnerability, a vulnerability that can only be known when you enter fully into the other’s condition. When the Word became flesh, it wasn’t just flesh that was changed, but the Word was changed, too. We only need look at Jesus in his living and loving to see how flesh changes the Word.
There is no avoiding the truth of this day; our flesh is forever joined with God. God lives in you, and you live in God. God loves in you, and you love in God. God has infused your humanity with divinity, and your humanity somehow gives shape and form to divinity—it moves divinity from an abstract premise to a lived reality which is the only place love can really occur.
This is about the nature of who we are, and the nature of who God is. Can you dare to believe that these two natures are now one, not just in Jesus, but in your own flesh and blood? Because the mystery of His incarnation, is also the mystery of our own. Amen.
The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
December 25, 2012