Sunday, November 20, 2011

Immanuel - Is God with Us (more thoughts)

I’ve been thinking about the Incarnation all week… about reason and understanding… knowledge and mystery… and I’ve been reflecting on why the Incarnation is so important to me, not just as a believer, but as a woman.
I hesitate to write some of the reflections I want to write… because I don’t want men to stop reading as soon as they see the content… and I don’t want to, in any way, alienate any women who have not given birth.  For some, it’s been a choice.  For some, it’s been a terrible grief.  For some, it’s just not been.  I know sometimes, in the church, there can be an atmosphere that suggests that a woman is somehow ‘less’ if she is not a mother.  And this is not an atmosphere that I wish to affirm or perpetuate.
At the same time, I cannot change the fact that I have given birth and cared for two infants… and that God has shown me some pretty significant things during these times of mystery. 
The Advent after Soren, my firstborn, was born, I pondered the baby Christ in new ways. 
How could Mary give birth to God Himself?  She birthed Him, changed His diapers, sang Him to sleep, bathed Him, and fed Him from her own body!  Her body was broken for Him…  This baby was the Savior of the world… the once and forever king in the promised line of David.
In the loneliness of that first year at home, I found great fellowship with Mary, and especially during that Advent season.  I pondered some of the questions she might have pondered…
Why would God allow Himself to be swaddled?  to be rocked? fed? bathed? nursed? changed? at the mercy of teenage novice hands?  Why would He allow Himself to be not only a child… but the child of an inexperienced mother? 
He who created movement was a quadriplegic lying in a manger. 
He who invented language was unable to communicate through intelligible speech. 
He who has dominion and authority over all things placed Himself under the authority of a teenage girl.
He who sees all things took on the monocular blurred vision of an infant. 
He who is unconquerable became frail to wear our frailty.
He became naked to wear our shame.
He became helpless to help our helplessness.
He became dependent to give us someone to depend on.
He emptied Himself to become our fullness.
How can this be? 
And yet, that first Advent, I realized I had never believed it so fully.  Immanuel… God with us.   And the first one to know Him… to experience His presence… was a woman. 
And somehow, in a faith whose leaders are predominantly male, this matters to me.  It makes Christ’s humanity seem less ‘male’ and more ‘human.’ 

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