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Incarnation

This week, three short(ish) quotations appropriate to the season, and, of course, to the theme of these reflections - the ministry of the whole people of God. First, Dr Clare Amos wrote a perceptive piece for the Roots magazine web site (www.rootsontheweb.com) a couple of weeks ago which included:

“…incarnation does not simply mean that in the life of Jesus Christ, God was present in human form. Rather, I believe that the fact that ‘God was in Christ’ also means that God has sanctified creation as a whole - that the incarnation of the Son of God is, if you like, a ‘sacrament’ which makes wider possibilities visible. For me the incarnation means that God has seen the potential of working through the secular and the material… without feeling the need at every point overtly to label everything in religious terms… It is ‘Christian’ to try to create a society in which justice reigns, in which Christians and others work together to seek to release prisoners of conscience, in which Christ can be found in the hard graft of daily living, and in which the dull and sometimes boring tasks of local government can be done in such a spirit that the possibilities for resurrection can be found…

That's the kind of ‘Christian’ society I want, in which the message of the incarnation is so deeply embedded in our everyday lives that we and our fellow citizens are living out the ‘good news’ perhaps without even realising it, and certainly without the need overtly to name it as Christian all the time.”

Secondly, at the risk of tautology through quoting oneself, in the laos eReflection at the start of Advent, I wrote:

“…since the first Christmas and until Jesus comes again, he is incarnated, enfleshed, in his followers, the body of Christ, the church. It is in and through his people that Jesus walks the Earth in this in-between era. We could, perhaps, remember this and turn round 1 John 3.2b: ‘when we are like him, he will be revealed.’ We may not be able to hasten the second coming, but we can be part of it!”

Finally, from a surprising source:

“The message of Lamentations is one which the modern church needs desperately to hear if Christendom is to understand its own mission as something more than the cultivation of personal piety while the common life of man perishes in the inferno.”

Norman Gottwald wrote this 43 years ago (Studies in the book of Lamentations, SCM Press, 1962), adding a certain imperative to our thinking about the place of the church in the world.

So when you sing “cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today,” you might like to give some thought to these wider takes on what ‘incarnation’ could mean.

Happy Christ-mass

Peter Nicholls

 

“That's the kind of ‘Christian’ society I want, in which the message of the incarnation is so deeply embedded in our everyday lives that we and our fellow citizens are living out the 'good news' perhaps without even realising it…”

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