Newsletter Submission December 2010 “Incarnation: God with us!” By Fr. Eric Cooter
Approximately 2000 years ago, in a tiny insignificant village, in an animal stall a baby was born to a woman named Mary. Children are born every day in the world. In fact, worldwide in 2010, nearly 16,000 births occur every hour, and nearly 500 per hour in the United States alone. So why does one baby 2000 years ago seem so significant? As Christians, we may read this question and say, “You’re kidding right … where have you been all your life?” We make an assumption sometimes, that everyone knows this story of the Infant Jesus, his mother Mary and Joseph, and the miraculous event of the Nativity in the town of Bethlehem. It is interesting to note some trends emerging in the U.S. today.
In a 2009 Newsweek article, John Meacham (Newsweek editor and alumni of the University of the South) wrote concerning an American Religious Identification Survey, “The number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation has nearly doubled since 1990, rising from 8 to 15 percent.” Meachum adds, “Clearly, there is a new narrative, a post-Christian narrative that is animating large portions of this society.” For many of us, this may be seen as a frightening statistic, for our faith and the faith of our children seem to be at stake. As more and more people, are less and less connected to faith communities in our culture, the narrative of the Christian faith must be re-told and shared.
We can no longer assume that the narrative of the incarnate God who became fully flesh and remained fully divine, who taught, lived, died, and was raised and reigns today, is widely known and widely understood by our children, grandchildren, or friends. So how can we participate in telling story today? Simply, we just live the narrative of God’s grace. We are the instruments by which the music of God’s grace resonates in the world. Our lives emerge each day as witnesses to the saving grace of God.
We are the storytellers who can share with others, how God who came to us as that small baby in a feed trough (manger), grew up to the man who taught us the radical extent and depth of God’s love for God’s creation. Jesus of Nazareth, the man who faced the powers and principalities of his day, was killed because of his radical teachings and miracles of love, but because he was fully God and fully human, overcame death and was resurrected. Love overcame death! God with us, fully human and fully divine is the story of Incarnation and it is the beginning of the broader narrative of our faith. It is a Christmas story unlike any we may hear today in the mall, on the television, or in the theatre. God with us … as a baby in a feed stall … as a man who walked among us … as the resurrected One … as the exalted one who reigns and whose Kingdom is near. A small baby out of billions changed the world and set in motion the Father’s plan for creation. This is the story that we must tell, and it is the narrative that animates all of creation in beauty, in peace, in mercy, and in grace.
John Meacham’s Article http://www.newsweek.com/2009/04/03/the-end-of-christian-america.html