I was deeply moved by a quote from Prior Aelred, a Benedictine monk from St. Gregory’s Abbey,
I don’t have a clue how it is possible for God to become a human being. It is beyond my ability to comprehend. That doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I was very good at Euclidian geometry and Newtonian physics. I could follow the logic and the mathematics because I could comprehend them. I don’t understand subatomic physics and the significance of the hunt for the Higgs boson. I can’t comprehend things that function so far outside my own experience. That doesn’t mean that they are not true. It just means that I can’t comprehend them.
Summing up: we cannot comprehend God. But we can experience him—in human form.
The benediction we will close with this evening, May God, who in the Word made flesh, joined heaven to earth and earth to heaven sums up the reason we celebrate: Heaven joins earth. Can you comprehend heaven living inside of you and me? Maybe not, but we can experience heaven and its unfolding within us.
For this church year, if just not for this moment alone, how can we invite Divinity more into our humanity? If we’re careful to read the gospels, humanity is woven through them. Instead of reporting data of the birth as our culture does: time, height, weight and color of eyes, Luke’s world speaks of more human factors: swaddling clothes, a manger and his first visitors. Our culture, based in Greek thought tends to separate the world of things from the world of ideas, the realm of spirit from the realm of the physical and human from Divine. Jesus joins divinity and humanity, spirit and matter as one and thereby begins to heal us from our inner separation from ourselves and our outer separation from the world. Without this marriage between divinity and humanity we ricochet through life without consciousness and we look at others as objects instead of spiritual human beings. This is why it can be so difficult to look into the eyes of another: we begin to see their soul, and to begin to see their soul requires that we are in contact with our own.
Why is this important? Recall, all the headlines in the news this past year: observable escalating aberrant behavior and belief systems—it’s not difficult to comprehend that there’s definitely something missing in the world—that a large percentage of humanity is definitely in need of some divinity in order to align humanity with creation.
Prior Aelred continues: What I understand the Incarnation to mean is that there is no pretense in God. God really became a human being. He didn’t pretend anything about being human. He needed his mother to feed him and change his swaddling clothes and he really went through the adolescent angst of the human condition.
If Christmas is to have any meaning at all besides the Disney Fantasia aspect, it means that Jesus reaches into our earthiness with his own and is more willing to be with us our light and in the shadows than we are ourselves. This is why it can be so difficult to read the Psalms: they are ever so earthy, sometimes dripping with the base nature of our animal nature, begging the Divine to take root in it.
So this Christmas, let us invite the Divine child to dwell with us fully: in our joy, in our anger, in our sadness, anxiety and dread. Let us invite him into our doubt, our sense of inferiority, wounded memories, confusion; in our overconfidence and grandiosity that covers our fear. Let us invite him into our troubled relationships and take flesh there. Let his infancy take root in us this season so that the blissfulness of new birth may place its breath within us where we find ourselves most hypoxic.
There are places in our lives where we find it more difficult to breathe. Anxiety, fear, doubt, questionable self-acceptance and worth are all places where our physical respiration decreases, because this inner conflict is borne in our flesh blocking our ability to breathe and live freely. . Allow the Divine infant to enter us so that we too may cry out as an infant for our greatest need: for his love and joy to transform our pain—to be made whole by the one who comes to lead us there.
The infant Child, is in our midst, breathing with us as we also prepare to be birthed anew. The labor is worth it for the joy that this child will reveal in us. We will know truth by being awakened to know more of him. May we be fully present to his presence—allowing his presence to touch our hearts, minds and wills to dismantle that which is holding us back from our birthright to become our true selves found in him.
Gloria in Excelsis Deo!