Friday, December 17, 2010
Incarnation—messin’ with Athanasius
I am preaching on Christmas Eve. A colleague is sick with the horrible flu that is going around and I am filling in. After 30 years of preaching on Christmas, I have numerous sermons for Christmas. I can do a sermon for Christmas Eve cold. But I am getting bolder and I am more rested in preparation for Christmas this year than at any other time in my life. I have also been reading and listening more to ideas that I would never have promulgated in my own parish in fear that I would upset people. So I am messing with the doctrine of the Incarnation as preparation for preaching next week.
Now this is not some lame-brained humanism. I believe that in creation we are not just created what we are—we are created in hope of what we might become. And human beings are called to be all we can be. Now, I am not an Aristotelian—I don’t believe that Jesus is the perfect man that we are to become. But I do believe that I have the possibility to become, with God’s help, the best ‘muthah+’ I can be, if I am willing to trust in God and live with charity and responsibility.
Now, this image of humanity and creation puts me at odds with a whole bunch of long-held doctrines in the Church. This should not be surprising, after all I AM an Episcopalian. But it also means that I have to look hard and long at these doctrines and then be very careful about how I explain this relationship I have with a God who would love me more than life. I don’t believe that the God who created the Grand Canyon, or Victoria Falls, or Mount Everest or the Japanese Trench has ever made things that are unchanging. It is contrary to the whole make up of Creation. All atoms are in motion, I believe. And consequentially, we do not have the right to sit on our backside and complain because the world leaves us behind.
The birth of an infant in a manger 2000 years ago is an image of the hope of humanity. All children call from us that same hope. It is a hope that makes life a worthwhile endeavor. It says that we humans have a chance to enter into a life of continuous call to become more than we were the day before—not HAVE more—but to BE more. What a challenge this is and what a call to excitement each day of our lives!