The gospel of John (one of four gospels in the New Testament) proclaims, “God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). It is the proclamation of the mystery of Incarnation.
Lutheran Bishop Stephen Bouman tells of standing behind an altar in a small crypt chapel of the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth in the Holy Land, the place where Mary heard that she was going to have a baby. He saw some Latin words carved into the altar, Verbum camo factum est, “The Word was made flesh.” But then he noticed that there was one other little word in Latin. That word: h-i-c. Hic means “Here.” Verbum camo hic factum est. “The Word was made flesh here.” Probably whoever authorized that inscription meant it to refer to that specific location, but in reality, the Incarnation means God became flesh here on earth, for all of us. The Incarnation means that we can speak of the “hicness” of God, the hereness of God. Incarnation means that God walks with us on earth, and that God can be encountered right here on earth, even in our very own flesh.
The mystery of the Incarnation is precisely the repositioning of God in the material world once and forever. Continual top-down religion often creates very passive, and even passive-dependent and passive-aggressive Christians. I know this as a Christian pastor for 37 years. Bottom-up, or incarnational theology (study of God), offers a God we can experience for ourselves. We have nothing to argue or prove, just something to know for ourselves.
God’s revelations are always pointed, concrete, and specific. They are not a Platonic world of ideas and theories about which you can be right or wrong, or observe from a distance. Divine Revelation is not something you measure or critique. It is not an ideology but a Presence you can directly experience and meet! It is more Someone than something.
All of this is called the “mystery of incarnation”—enfleshment or embodiment if you prefer. And for Christians, it reaches its fullness in the incarnation of God in one ordinary man named Jesus who walked the dusty earth in Palestine over 2,000 years ago. God materialized in human form, so we could fall in love with a real person, which is the only way we fall in love.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light,
The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee tonight.
~ from carol, O Little Town of Bethlehem
Rev. John Juno Song is the pastor of Watsonville First United Methodist Church. For information, visit watsonville1stumc.org, call 831-724-4434 or email [email protected]. His views are his own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian.