Friday, December 16, 2011

The Incarnation: Liberation and Hope

The secular observation of Christmas that happens once a year, mainly influenced by the likes of Wall-Mart, Penneys, Macy’s, and Sears, along with the ecclesiaastical celebration of the Birth of the Christ, a sacred and wonderful liturgical expression of worship, are both secondary to the understanding that the Incarnation is a year around, lifelong way of living for the Christian. The business about the Birth of Christ is a genuine revolution that we sometimes seem to overlook.  God, by sending the Son into the world, has changed life forever, and we are a part of this radical revolution setting about the business of turning this world upside down.

We are empowered to move beyond thinking about God, and intellectualizing our faith, into knowing God in daily life.  God is real, God lives in us, and God is available to us in the present moment.  It is unfortunate that in many of the distractions of the sentimental customs and the myths that surround Christmas – as much fun as they are and as much joy as they offer – we have lost much of the power of the Incarnation, the knowledge and meaning of “Emmanuel," God with us in our own lives and in the life of the world.   Life with God is all about relationship with God and with one another.
John and Paul, not to mention the likes of Thomas Merton, taught that all Christian theology is a radical liberation theology.  The basic Christian message is that we have been set free from the limitations of our minds, liberated from the chains of our sins, released from the constraints of the law, and emancipated from the bondage of our fallen nature.  In freedom we are the heirs of the love, grace, and power of God.  Because of this liberation we are not only incorporated into union with God, but we are also placed in a special bond of unity with one another as brothers and sisters.  This moves us far beyond theology into a real, fleshy, mission based life with God in the world in which we live. 

We have been given a great responsibility.  We are forgiven and we are reconciled with God, so we are called to forgive those around us and be agents of reconciliation in a world where many have become alienated from God and from each other.  Not only is our life changed but we are empowered to proclaim a Gospel of liberation and hope to all people who desperately need the good news that they are loved, forgiven, fed and cared for, as well as, offered eternal life.  Gifted people must employ their gifts for the good of all.  We are the gifted ones, people who "have seen a great light . . . for to us a child is born, to us a son is given." [Isaiah 9:2] 
We who have seen the light of Christ are obliged, by the greatness of the grace that has been given us, to make God’s presence known to the ends of the earth, beginning in our own churches, within our own families, and in our own community. 

"We do not understand that this business about the crib is the real revolution that once and for all turned everything upside down, so that nothing has ever been, or ever can be, the same again."  ---Thomas Merton, Road to Joy

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