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March 6, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Six

Week One: Actionable Aspirations

Reflection for the Week: God’s goodness is the source that propels leaders into courageous action.

A story I am fond of telling has to do with the four-year-old daughter of a pastor. After being put to bed in her room for the night, the pastor went into the living room where he was hosting a meeting of his key leadership. It was a stormy night and the little girl kept coming out and interrupting the meeting asking for a hug or a glass of water. Finally, the pastor a bit exasperated said; “Honey, you are just fine in here, there is nothing to be afraid of. I am in the other room and God is in here with you.” Looking around the room she replied, “But daddy, I want a God with skin on.”

In the Gospels, the good news is that we have a “God with skin on” — Jesus Christ. We call this incarnation, or the divine God coming to us in human form. God knew we needed a person, a personal experience of God to fully relate to God. The Old Testament Commandments, Covenants, and Prophets tried their best, but we kept falling and failing. God remained a step or two removed. Until Jesus. In Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God entered into our world in the first person. That is why no one has any more questions about God and completely understands everything about God and Jesus. Right . . .

We can reflect on the meaning of incarnation with this quote from a T.S. Elliot poem “The Dry Salvages,”
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action. The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.

I think the reason we struggle even as “Post incarnation” Christians is that we tend to project ourselves onto the image of Christ rather than see the image of God in Christ. God may have been revealed in Christ, Christ may be fully human and fully divine, but we are still limited in our ability to perceive this fullness because of our finite nature. In the incarnation we have the gift of another revelation, a wonderful revelation of the nature of God, but it is still a hint to us finite beings of what it can be like to come face to face with the infinite. Even those who walked daily with Christ never fully understood him.

But once again, that is not the goal because it is impossible to fully understand. The Goal is to embrace the God of love we meet in the person of Jesus Christ, not imprison him in a physical body.

Prayer: Open my eyes that I may see, Lord. Amen.