12/18/2017 10:38:32 AM
The Spirit of the Lord
One of the neat things about the incarnation is how messy it is. The incarnation, if you don't know term, is what Jesus does on Christmas day: Jesus is born. In his birth, Jesus decided to become a human being. But Jesus doesn't lose his divine identity when he does this. Instead, Jesus becomes a paradox. He is both 100% human and 100% divine. This is something that shouldn't be possible because someone who is 100% divine cannot be 100% human (i.e. someone who can die, someone who needs to eat, someone who needs to sleep) at the same time. The incarnation (Jesus becoming human; God being born) is messy because our lives, from the beginning, are messy events. We enter the world covered in goo. We spend time in the dirt and in the grass. We eat, sweat, and sometimes stink. Jesus chose to be messy which, if we think about it, is a surprising thing for God to do.
Yet this messiness is also an invitation brining us closer to God. Instead of viewing the incarnation only as a moment when God comes to us, our reading from Isaiah invites us to wonder what it would be like to go towards God. If we were on God's home turf, hanging out in God's kingdom, what would it look like? What would be happening? Isaiah answers those questions with his words here. God does more than just accompany us on our journey. God is also an activate participate in whatever God created. God empowers people to bring good news to the oppress, to heal the broken, and to free prisoners. God's kingdom is a world filled with justice and peace. God kingdom is, in the end, the place where the vulnerable are made whole, no matter what.
These words from Isaiah 61:1-4,8-11 are words that are central to Jesus' public ministry. In the gospel according to Luke, Jesus quotes these passages and the crowd almost throws him off a cliff. The crowd could see that Jesus' words were powerful because they knew what Jesus' words meant. The passage from Isaiah proclaims a promise that God's kingdom is a kingdom where a great reversal takes place. The situation in our world will be reversed by a God who desires life, love, and peace to all people, regardless of where they were born or what advantages they gained in life. The incarnation isn't only about Jesus being born. The incarnation is also an invitation for us to realize that a part of our Christian life is to follow Jesus by being Jesus-like to all our neighbors in need.