Learning Together: The Incarnation, Nesting or Journeying?
When a baby comes, we make things ready, settle down and settle in. The space is liminal, a joining of heaven and earth (much as it is at the time of death); quiet, pierced only by baby sounds. The noise of daily life disappears as this new creature becomes the most important, largest, greatest thing to ever arrive on the planet. Dreaming of the future, pondering hope embodied in the little one, we consider a love that makes the heart so irrevocably full, one can hardly stand it. This is life.
For the holy family, the nesting period would be brief. According to at least one gospel (Matthew 2), they must flee soon after the birth to avoid the threat of violence, persecution, and death. I think now of pregnant refugee women who will give birth as they flee, not even a few days for nesting but perhaps stopping just long enough so the birth can take place. Families across the world who may be settled somewhere, but undocumented and without the benefit of status, live under the threat of being separated one from another for as long as they dwell in a foreign land. I pray they too have this moment of incarnation, God with us, where all reality is peacefully united. May we the privileged, housed and settled, be prayerful and mindful of all those in our world today who are relentlessly on a journey.
The incarnational reality is always with us. As Christians, we know it in Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. Whether we have the privilege of being settled in life or we are on the move, God is with us. We are never separated even when we think we are. The circumstances of life can shape us but they do not have the power to separate us from God. This is the heart of the message of the mythic hope of the Incarnation. God with us – always. May we live into this hope.
So, what is your experience? Are you nesting or journeying? Can you grow your capacity to experience the presence of God within, being one with God just as a mother and child share body and blood in the womb? Can you “birth” a treasure into the world as Mary and Joseph were faithfully able? Both nesting and journeying are opportunities to draw close to the One who is the giver of all life.
As I consciously dwelled “in the moment” with a friend the other day, together we honored the truth that “time is precious.” I was reminded to approach all that I have to do as I prepare for Christmas grounded in the thought that we cannot be separated from God. The holidays can be frantic and loud. Perhaps we just want to get past them. It makes a difference to remember that Christmas is a celebration of liminal space: where the imagined boundaries between heaven and earth disappear, and a little baby reminds us that love is real and has the power to define everything. What a difference it makes to live in that liminal space.
May the eternal, immeasurable, ever-graceful love of God define us this Christmas and in the New Year. May Jesus, Incarnate One be our graceful way. In our lives, may we incarnate this good news!
In the abiding love of Christ,