“And the Word became flesh.” (John 1:14). Five words that utterly change everything. And the Word became flesh. And the Word became flesh. And the Word became flesh. And the Word became flesh. And the Word became flesh. Flesh. Flesh.
Not an idea or a theology. Not a religion or denomination. Not a church or fellowship of believers. The Word became flesh. The Word became human flesh. The Word, God, became like us. No longer a distant deity, but real and present, actual and corporal, living amongst us. And the Word became flesh: Emmanuel, God with us. First as the baby we celebrate Christmas Eve. Then as the Christ roaming and moving throughout Galilee. The significance of this change, the radical nature of this indwelling, can be missed by us, because it is all we know, but to go from God being out there, to God being right here is staggering. To go from reading about God, to seeing God, knowing God, hearing God, and learning from God is miraculous. The opening chapter of John’s gospel proclaims this radical message. His good news for the world begins with this pronouncement. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”, because everything that comes after has - as its starting point, as its precursor, as its prerequisite - that the Word became flesh. All the miracles, all the teachings, all the healings, even that distant passion week, the cross, and resurrection, all of that - the whole ministry of Christ - has as its foundations this Christmas birth. They have those five words: “And the Word became flesh.” It starts everything. Starts it. The incarnation, the Christmas birth is the starting place. For Christ’s ministry, but also ours. God coming down, to become human, to be with us, to be one of us, begins a ministry for us. What Christ indwells and begins, we participate in and continue. This “in the flesh ministry” that we witness across the gospels, continues in the fleshy ministry that we do. When we reach out to the hopeless and downtrodden. When we serve and feed so many that need help this season. When we gather, against all forces that would pull us apart. When we become an incarnational ministry in the world, we truly live into the meaning of this season. We participate in what we have been anticipating and preparing for these last four weeks. To say that another way, we become the presence of God in the world. We become the incarnational force that moves out into the world and extends the presence of God. We continue the ministry that begins Christmas with this birth. We become the flesh that is out there. Christ’s birth changes everything, but it also starts everything.
Blessings, Rev. Tim Blodgett