Christmas Incarnations

I have been rereading the story from Luke’s gospel that returns to us year after year to find more incarnational spaces this Christmas. Here is what I’m encountering:

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.”

For those who feel anger when empires move people like pawns into precarious situations, God will meet you in indignant flesh.

“All went to their own towns to be registered.”

For those who are at the mercy of rulers’ plots to amass more power and wealth for themselves, God will meet you in disempowered flesh.

“Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.”

For those who are going back home after building a new life in a new place with a new family and who may have to face memories of the past and disorienting change when they get there, God will meet you in returning, changing flesh.

“He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.”

For those who are forced to travel far from home and to jeopardize their health and lives at a time when they most need care, God will meet you in uprooted, vulnerable flesh.

“While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.”

For those who are laboring with all their might to bring something new into a closed, oppression-woven world, God will meet you in powerful prenatal flesh.

“And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no place in the guest room.”

For those who are doing the brave work of beginning and need to lean on others for support, God will meet you in swaddled newborn flesh.

“Now in that same region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”

For those who are tending and protecting others day and night in a society that undervalues them, God will meet you in flesh rendered invisible.

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for see, I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom [God] favors!’”

For those who are speaking and singing good news of God’s transformative presence to people whom others tend to ignore, God will meet you in rejoicing, contrapuntal flesh.

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger.”

For those who are intrigued by what God is up to and who venture to find out, God will meet you in seeking flesh.

“When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, and Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”

For those who tell their stories and those who listen and take them to heart, God will meet you in open, attentive flesh.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told them.”

For those who are celebrating God’s promise of liberation and redemption when its fulfillment remains at a distance, God will meet you in faithful, festive flesh.


Scripture quotations are from Luke 2:1-20, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Header image of “Holly Branch with Berries” is by Alistair MacRobert on the Unsplash website