Winter, 2018-2019 Pastor’s Message
The Word became flesh and lived among us,
Incarnation, Embodiment, To Make Flesh
Most of you now know I am a word geek. I love dictionaries, playing Scrabble, reading, speaking, preaching, writing, and generally immersing myself in words. One of the central words in the Christian story of the birth of the baby Jesus, as it has been told and retold, pondered and puzzled, debated and dogmatized throughout the centuries, is incarnation.
"embodiment of God in the person of Christ,"
from Old French incarnacion (12c.),
from Late Latin incarnationem (nominative incarnatio), "act of being made flesh" (used by Church writers especially of God in Christ),
noun of action from past participle stem of Latin incarnare "to make flesh," a person or thing regarded as embodying or exhibiting some quality, idea, or the like (www.dictionary.com)
Traditional Christian theology or orthodoxy teaches that God was incarnated, embodied, made flesh in the first century human being named Jesus, whose birth we are preparing to celebrate once again. The very God of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel and Leah, Moses and Miriam, Jeremiah and Isaiah and Deborah and Esther and John the Baptizer, was born into this world to fully inhabit, to live in the flesh, as a human being, like you and me. Until then, some would suggest, God was simply an idea, a quality, perhaps a Spirit without form, and most certainly without human form. We proclaim and believe and hope that something different and something entirely new happened when Jesus was born. Jesus, even as a newborn child somehow, some way embodied God. Jesus was God in the flesh. "The Word became flesh and lived among us," (John 1:14) This is the incarnation.
Incarnation is a "noun of action." I love that part of the definition above. A noun of action. For any idea or notion or vision or mission to "be made flesh," to come alive, to be in action, requires incarnation. A vision or mission on the page, or in an email, or in a bulletin, or in a newsletter, is only words until it is incarnated, embodied, made flesh–by actual living, breathing human beings.
Now that East Church has a new mission statement, Building and Serving Community in Christ's Name, the call placed upon us, each one individually and together as one, collectively, is to embody it, to make it flesh, to incarnate it. There are at least as many ways to incarnate our mission as there are individuals in our congregation, PLUS all the ways we put our selves together to incarnate it as a community. Three of the ways we will begin to incarnate our mission as a community of faith in this new year are:
- Reducing our carbon footprint and increasing our care of creation by generating solar energy for ourselves and our soon to be identified community partners.
- Exploring and learning about stewardship and generosity through, and far beyond, our annual pledge drive.
- Developing a five-year strategic plan for our ministry in this time and place.
Incarnation. Embodiment. To Make Flesh.
How will you, individually and as a vital part of this community of faith, make the words of our mission statement, Building and Serving Community in Christ's Name, be born and come to life, and be made flesh, this year?