Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Incarnation, To Make Sure We Understand

In the Dec. 10th issue of Presbyterian Outlook, Charles Hardwick writes, "It's a drag to have someone speak over your head...It can happen your first day of work when your boss forgets that you are entering new territory, or when your teenage grandchild helps you 'master' Facebook."  My head was spinning today as Jane, Janet, Leslie and I discussed using Google Drive as a platform for presbytery committee document sharing....  New committee members' eyes often glaze over during orientation as I slip into Presby speak.  Hardwick suggests that preachers sometimes numb people's minds with "ten dollar" words in their sermons.  

Yet, "every Christmas," he continues, "we remember that God wants to communicate with us in a way that lowers our confusion, rather than heightening it.  John Calvin called it God's 'condescending' to us--speaking at our level, rather than over our heads."  Charles Wesley's carol hints at this condescending miracle of the Incarnation.  'Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate deity, Pleased in flesh with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.'  Jesus comes all the way down from heaven to make sure we understand who God is."  

I give thanks for your desire to follow Jesus, and for your calling to minister to others.  In some mysterious, imperfect and incomplete way, God uses us to communicate who God is and to make God's love real to those we encounterAs we grieve the deconstruction of the institutional church from what we have known and loved, and await what it shall become, this is the essence of our calling on which to build.    That is to enfllesh the love of God for a particular people in a particular time and place.   To do so, we must reinvent our methods, just as those before us have done again and again.  Not so much to make ourselves relevant, as to make real and present God's love to people. 

God is so much larger than our understanding, so full of mystery and majesty, how can we not speak over people's heads?  That's God's work in and through and in spite of us.  We may not know the impact we make on others, but God does.  On behalf of the lives you have touched and hearts you've warmed with the grace of God this year, I thank and praise God for you and your witness.  To God be the glory.