Friday, December 24, 2010

The Word Becomes Flesh

Thinking about the Christmas story what strikes me is how surprising it is. Nobody expects God to become man. Nobody expects God to do it through such an obscure family. They are talking about John the Baptist. The son of a priest. Miracles surrounding his birth. People were predicting great things for him. But nothing like that is recorded for Jesus. There are some saying of prophets and Mary is pondering things in her heart but nothing like Luke 1:65-66:
All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
This refers to John the Baptist and not to Jesus. So Jesus comes to us under the radar. All that seems to be widely known about him is he is conceived out of wedlock. Nobody is expecting God to do anything amazing though that child.

I strikes me that such is always the way with God. He is so amazing and glorious and holy that you would think He could not sneak up on you. But He does. The more we think we have God figured out. The more we have a strong idea of what God will look like when He shows up. That is when the word can become flesh and dwell among us and we can just miss it.

Certainly finding God in the Catholic church was like that. Having been a serious protestant for so long and having very strong ideas about how God works. I even believed that God would often surprise us. But I never expected Jesus to be using the Catholic church. The surprise I was ready for was that God does NOT work through structured liturgy or church hierarchies. I was all ready for that surprise.

It amazes me how many people are so close to the body of Christ and yet cannot see it. It is like we are looking for a formula. For a systematic theology. For a way of generating spiritual experiences. For simple, practical formulas. For anything but a person. Flesh and blood that is willing to bleed for us. We don't look for martyrs. Even white martyrs who have sacrificed in the form of religious vows. We look for a teacher rather than a savior.

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