There is an ever-present danger when living an incarnational life. The vulnerability of this space posses the ability to instill humility in leadership through the rigors of life. The closeness that is fashioned in such intimate containers unmasked all pretentiousness and facilitates true authenticity. The pressure of incarnation produces “fresh” ministry that addresses problems but will definitely redirect those locked in the process to reshape their preconceived narratives.
The realness of incarnation centers on the fact that at all times you are actively present in life. It is this perichoretic moment as Jurgen Moltmann would say where “we are ‘habitable’, for one another, giving one another open life-space for mutual indwelling. Each person is indwelling and room-giving at the same time.” This becomes reality for many as they journey through the process of incarnation. Incarnation invites others to either join or destroy. The easy work of incarnation is mythical at best but painfully articulated within the body like the ink of tattoos-simply works of art. It takes a tremendous level of humility to navigate through streams of unfamiliarity sometimes just to encounter a dislike.
One who embodies the methodology of incarnation intuitively or mystically unearths evil aspects of racism (really prejudice) through vulnerability. This unveiling of self as Eboni Marshall Turman denotes in her work Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation, becomes counter-intuitive to “the negative and positive poles of a dichotomous racial hierarchy.” In other words, the more that I am authentically locked in the imago dei (image of God), in my human flesh, following the guidance of God, the greater the potential for others to become uncomfortable around me -especially those who make it their reality to dislike me based upon human flesh only. Their adjustment is to use “identification as the power play.” So no longer is the imago dei the primary issue but racial hierarchy now guides the perspective.
More to come…
I have come to the conclusion that how you view the incarnation impacts your sociological grid . It is the incarnation where we see God coming to “chill with us.” It is in the chill where the difference of perspectives starts to tease out the differences. Is his mere presence substantial enough?
John Murray writes,
“The Son of God did not become personal by incarnation. He became incarnate but there was no suspension of his divine self-identity.”
This is a well crafted thought but tends to lend itself to a disconnected Jesus-truly divine but not relational commitment. Yes, I understand Murray’s premise but I think the emphasis of dehumanizing Jesus for the sake of augmenting his divinity is problematic. Maybe my understanding of Murray is incorrect but his use of the term personal is a bit on the ambiguous side. The very essence of the incarnation celebrates the “personal” encounter with God. The need for a personal God is what makes Christianity such a fierce necessity for many in the black community. The thought that he came to see about me and stayed a while becomes the backdrop for the oppressed African that would be trapped in these yet to be united states. Without this “personal” encounter the presence of God- through incarnation- becomes no more than a hologram with perceived power. It is the personal encounter with a Jesus, who felt pain like me, that makes the incarnation such a thrust of love. Not only does he come but he comes and chills…
(Just a start as I work through this in my mind and in conversation.)
Part 2 The Incarnation- Incarnation, Perichoresis and Racism
Is there a greater example of reconciliation than at the Lord’s Table? It is within this sacred ritual that we experience the clarion call to connect with the Lord in service. It is this call that invites all who will to come and sit at the table regardless…and God will do the changing, reshaping, redeveloping and the saving. The Lord’s Table breaks down the variables of difference and renames them as gifts. At the Lord’s Table the Eucharist becomes the feast of the “chosen.” This is not exclusive or inclusive language, but an ontological imperative to the believer. The inclusive language is actually exclusive behavior hidden within progressive rhetoric. Exclusive language is discriminatory with disregard for social progression and awareness.
The Eucharist breaks down barriers and translate them in to familiar avenues for those who have been disenfranchised by life. The Eucharist is the incarnation in pragmatic form, at its best. The incarnational aspects of the Eucharist represent a robust engagement and invitation to connect. Matthias Scheeban articulates,
“The Eucharist is meant to be the continuation of the Incarnation . . . As the elevating and transforming power of the Incarnation is continued and perfected in the spiritual mode of that body’s existence, so the union of the invisible with the visible, of the divine with the human, which we observed in the Incarnation, is distinctly brought out in its sacramental existence.”
The Eucharist is the residual, eternal effects of Christ coming and dwelling among us. (John 1:14) It is the Eucharist that allows such authenticity where pretenses become fragmented by acts of love. This is the moment when we identify that the Eucharist is reconciliation on steroids. Racism, sexism and classism are trumped by invitation- the invitation to come and partake. If you are invited to engage in the Eucharist then all of your “isms” are subpar. Christ through his work on the cross recalibrated the whole so “isms” take a backseat to the presence of Christ. St. John of Damascus write, “He in his fullness took upon himself me in my fullness and was united whole to whole that he might in his grace bestow salvation to the whole man. For what has not been taken cannot be healed.” So within this healing and restoring of the whole, we find that our” isms” have been recalibrated to resemble Christ.
In this Eucharistic recalibration, we continually come to the table re-dressed because of the deeds of Christ. Thus all perception is centered on Him and not us which calls for “high functioning reconciliation.”
Trying to grasp the essence of the Eucharist…