The seventeenth-century English poet John Donne once shared a legend about one man’s search for God. When told that God lived atop a mountain at the end of the earth, the man embarked on a journey there to find God. At the same time, however, God thought, “What can I do to show my people I love them?” So, God decided to travel down from the mountain and live among the people as one of them. But God went down the opposite side of the mountain from the man climbing up, so, they missed one another. The man was heartbroken when he discovered an empty mountaintop and concluded that God must not exist.
Now, we know that God doesn’t live on a mountaintop, at the end of the earth, or even in some distant heaven. From the mystics of old to today’s best theologians, the collective wisdom suggests a profoundly intimate and interconnected Divinity. And I believe that this is the key to understanding the doctrine of the incarnation. The true essence of incarnation is God’s indwelling in all of creation, from the smallest yet-to-be-identified particle to the furthest reaches of the cosmos. In short, limiting God to one place or one time or to one culture-bound expression creates barriers to the deeper understanding of the mystery of life.
So, if we, as Christians, want to take the incarnation of Christ seriously, we must come to understand that Jesus revealed what it means to be fully-human, and that by living fully into his humanity, demonstrated a way of being that could only be described as Divine. St. Athanasius suggested in the fourth century, “Christ became what we are that he might make us what he is.” John Cobb Jr. affirms this understanding when he says, “In human beings, God is the source of novelty, of purpose, of meaning, of openness to others, of freedom, of responsibility, and of much else besides. Far from diminishing our humanity, God is the giver of that humanity. The more fully God is present, the more fully human we are.”
My friends, as we continue our journey of faith and life, may we continue to walk with God and each other, hand in hand, and side by side. And in the presence of The Sacred, may we each find a fuller expression of our humanity.
Many Blessings, Pastor Phil
Story, quotes, and process theology as express in Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity. David M Felton & Jeff Procter-Murphy (New York: Harper One, 2012) pgs. 184-186