I wonder a bit about understanding the word incarnational. Not in the sense that I disagree with the meaning or what people say about it. But because I keep finding it to be central to my faith walk and realize I’ve missed the point over and again. And it’s easy, but I’ve made it hard!

Incarnation refers to Jesus becoming flesh and living with us. God Incarnate. I’ve put incarnational thinking in the category of something Catholic that I don’t understand, too far out there. Or, a buzz word for another time. But, really, it’s close-in and relevant, and always has been. Not only that Christ was born and lived in the literal sense, not the symbolism of God enfleshed, but the reality of God with us.

Words. Theological maybe, but the reality is that it’s about every day and every moment; every thought, every feeling and every emotion. Actually, my own very Being enmeshed with the living God.

It’s probably the reason I’m drawn to holistic mission work both in the neighborhood and globally. I’ve come to see the whole person as one entity – not parts that are spiritual and non-spiritual. Perhaps this is the heart of my struggle too, seeking to find language and daily living that pushes against dualistic thinking, part of western thought for so long. I’m not convinced Africans think this way except maybe to please their white brothers. Christ came to dwell with us in our entirety.

In the biblical story, Jesus cared for and healed the broken, the sick, the disenfranchised. He addressed our entire state of being while speaking to the religious leaders, the masses, the woman at the well, and to his disciples.

I want to work with these concepts more fully, not just to defend the ideas and their application – of which there are plenty. But, I want to move toward embracing this so fully that there are fewer hiccups in how I live it. Plain and simple: it’s about trust and rest. The remainder is an add-on . . . or a detractor. Richard Rohr writes,

The human journey is not about becoming spiritual beings nearly as much as becoming fully human beings, which is actually much harder. We are already spiritual beings from the moment of our conception; we just don’t know it yet. The Bible tries to let you in on the secret, by revealing God in the ordinary. . .

We have created a terrible kind of dualism between the spiritual and the so-called non-spiritual. The principle of Incarnation proclaims that matter and spirit, sacred and secular have never been separate. Jesus came to tell us that these two seemingly different worlds are and always have been one. We just couldn’t see it until God put them together in one body that we call Jesus.

Quotes adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality.
And the word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14).

(c) 2011 Susan McDonald


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