12.22.2013

On Love and Incarnation

(What I said this morning.)

I’m supposed to talk about love, but first let me tell you about last Saturday. My husband went to the men’s breakfast, so I dropped the girls off at our next door neighbor’s house and walked down to the village green in Western Springs, where locals gathered to remember and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook shootings. I read the twenty-third psalm and offered a prayer as we stood by the steps of the water tower. It would have been a perfect scene - a winter wonderland - with all those Christmas trees lined up, and the snowflakes swirling around us like we’d been plunked into a snow globe. Except most snow globes aren’t filled with a crowd of people silently weeping as church bells ring twenty-six times. Let me tell you, it takes a long time for a church bell to ring twenty-six times.

I was desperate for some joy after that brief yet profound time of sorrow, so I picked up the girls and spent the half hour it takes to get them all bundled up - snow pants, mittens that reach past their elbows, fleece-lined snow boots. As soon as Ben returned we piled into the car to head to the park. Sledding, I’m convinced, is one of the few guaranteed sources of joy in life.

After a quick lunch - grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup - I headed to the hospital to visit a patient who had unexpectedly and unfortunately been admitted the night before.

Rich has mentioned that sometimes in staff meetings I have a tendency to get too detailed, and this is probably is an example of that. But I said I’d tell you about my day, and so here you go: after I left the hospital, I dropped off some dry cleaning and ducked into the store next door to buy a new pair of corduroy pants. Then I headed home to get changed and head over to church to officiate a wedding. The sanctuary was especially beautiful - the chancel lined with candles, and the pews decorated with red and white roses. Weddings are another pretty sure source of joy, and this one definitely was.

After the wedding, I rushed home so Ben could head to work - since September he’s been working as a Case Manager with BedsPlus, and he was scheduled to work in the homeless shelter that night. And here’s where I’ll be very careful not to give too many details, but a true account of my day cannot leave out that the stomach flu hit our household hard and fast for the second time in a week. My last act of the day was to use copious amounts of lysol.

I know you’re wondering what my point is. I promise I haven’t lost the plot. This is my point: God loves us enough to step into the mess of our days, to step into a body of flesh and blood. God loves us enough to become incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. God loves us enough to be born into a world in anguish, a world in which bells toll for senseless violence, a world in which loved ones sit by hospital bedsides distraught and anxious, a world in which not everyone has a place to sleep at night. God loves us enough to be born into a world of joy, too - sleds and weddings and grilled cheese sandwiches dipped into piping hot tomato soup. God loves us enough to risk being born - to risk having a body - in a world that contains not only intestinal viruses, but crosses.

God’s love is extraordinary, transcendent, remarkable. And yet it is God’s love for us that spirits the incarnate Christ into this world that is messy and painful, sublime and absurd, boring and hilarious. And because of this, we aren’t alone in the universe. We aren’t trudging along in a meaningless string of days, wandering and rootless. Because God loves us so much to dwell among us in flesh and blood, we live and and we love through Christ.

Amen.

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