“And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty) such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.”
– John 1:14 AMPC
I dare say that this Advent/Christmas will be noted in the annals of history as one of the most unusual in generations. This year we’ve been thrown out of our ordinary rhythms and practices. The time we live in has been marked by some as, “the year of the virtual.” A few years ago, in his book, Incarnate, my Australian friend Michael Frost described what life was like for so many of us – even before the pandemic.
“We drive our SUVs across town to churches in neighborhoods
we don’t live in (and don’t want to). We send SMSs and check
Twitter during the sermon, and then we download our favorite
celebrity preacher’s sermon as a podcast to listen to during the
week. We engage in online discussions by posting smug and
condescending remarks about those unseen, unknown folks
with whom we disagree. We sign petitions and change our
Facebook profile picture to show our support for various
causes without any thought of getting involved personally.
We are outraged by those who manipulate child soldiers in
Africa or who traffic sex workers from Central Europe, but we
don’t open our homes to our own neighbors, let alone those
with no home at all.”
In these last hours before we formally celebrate Jesus’ birth, we are reminded that in Jesus, God comes among us, (still). It may be easier to think of Jesus this week as the tiny, helpless baby in the manger. But Advent reminds us of the truth: Jesus is also the victorious, resurrected-from-the-dead, coming again King of all creation – and all flesh. Regardless of what Bette Midler may croon, God is NOT “watching us from a distance.” Even if we have grown adept at keeping safe distance between ourselves and others, the GOOD NEWS is that God does not, is not, keeping safe distance from us. God comes close enough to be touched. As John declares in his gospel, “(Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us.”
A few years one marketing firm helped a technology company to devise the following creative advertising strategy. It points out, what we are re-learning in the present moment: “Technology cannot replace love.”
Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded, for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendent, our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary, as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture, in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful his own self for heavenly food.
Still In ONE Peace,
Jon (the Methodist)
If you would like to view past editions of How Sweet the Sound, follow this link: https://sounddistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/