And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
The story of humanity from the beginning has been a long witness to the creations’ struggle to listen to the voice of the Creator. At first, the instructions were simple. “Breathe.” And it was so. “Be fruitful and multiply.” And it was good. But then then humanity’s limits are revealed. “Do not eat the fruit of this particular tree.” All of a sudden, God’s voice seems cruel. Capricious. Stifling.
And so the misguided adventure in search of freedom began. The intrepid leaders turned out to be nothing but cruel patriarchs hellbent on rape, war and conquest. Yet God continued to pursue his wayward people. He sent prophets to call men and women back to lives marked by justice and mercy. These prophets oftentimes spoke out against organized religion and the sham that cropped up again and again like some dogged weeds in the early spring. The prophet Malachi even went as far as to demand that the gates of the house of God be closed until the hearts and hands of his people started doing right by the poor and oppressed.
In spite of a few exceptions – the entire city of Nineveh turned toward one another and a God they’d never paid attention to before – the experience of the prophets was ill-fated from the beginning. Human nature is fickle and flawed and fathers passed down power to their sons and did not teach them to care for widows, orphans and those in need.
Humanity needed a permanent word to ever hope for true transformation.
Of course, this is what we mark each year in the season of Advent and the celebration of Christmas. God has become one of us. The message of God’s love for his wayward, flawed, foolish and rebellious crowning creation is unmistakable in the person of Jesus. In Christ, justice and mercy have become embodied reality. Because, as Christians, we are a people whose basic identity is found in Christ, we too have entered into an embodied remaking of our selves into men and women driven by justice and mercy.
In other words, as we celebrate Advent, and then Christmas this year, we mark the reality that our faith is an embodied reality that shapes each moment of every day. Religious practice cannot be confined by church walls anymore than the sun can be confined to the sky.
May our lives speak to the significance of this season much more than our words.