The Mystery of the Incarnation

A few weeks ago at a congregational meeting I encouraged my people to look for ways to become more “incarnational” in our community. I made this invitation based on John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (TM)  This is a popular message today, as it should be.  For far too long the North American church has remained insular and often ineffective in terms of outreach.  We should always be looking for new ways to reach out!  But I was reminded recently from Canadian theologian, David Guretzki, that although it is right and good to become more intentional in our outreach, there is only one incarnation, and “it ain’t us.”  Accordingly, he’s cautious about using the language of incarnation when it comes to talking about outreach.  Perhaps this is just semantics.  But I can see his point.  Although we are called to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:16-20), there is only one incarnation.  This occurred when the “Creator God, in some mind-boggling way, does not remain eternally isolated from his creation (as the god of Plato and Aristotle does), but joins the created order really and permanently in the person of Jesus Christ. Incarnation tells us the kind of God we worship even more than the kind of people we should be.” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation,” in Faith Today [Nov./Dec. 2017], 33-35)  Guretzki calls the incarnation the “paramount teaching of the Christian Faith.”  Accordingly, it is a doctrine that we should consider with awe.  Oh the mystery of God becoming flesh for us—so that he could die for us!  So, as much as we’re called to reach out and enfold people for Jesus, let us also take some time this Christmas season to wonder at the mystery of the incarnation.  And may that wonder lead us to worship the God who put on flesh for us, so that we may be moved to tell others about him.  I pray that you all have a blessed Christmas season!