A MEDITATION ON THE INCARNATION
given at an ecumenical gathering in January, 2002, St Benedict Church, Baltimore MD
I blithely agreed to speak, trusting that the Lord would give me something to say.
Then the wonder set in.
I wonder what I’m going to say. What is there to say about the Incarnation, about God become man? What can possibly express the mystery of it?
Do I talk about God being debased so that man can be elevated?
Do I talk about God in the flesh, a baby, a zygote, just a bunch of stem cells?
Do I talk about the Incarnation of God within us through the Eucharist?
How about God being in us so that we may live and move and have our being in Him?
What is there to say about a God who loves in such a strange and fascinating way as to become incarnate?
And why talk about it now? Sure, the Incarnation is more evident at Christmastime, but we celebrate the feast in March, when spring is new and our earthly cycle of life is just beginning.
Just postpone the talk.
But then I think it’s supposed to be a meditation. Anything can be a meditation. I can ruminate and pose a few thoughts, read a poem, do a dramatic show, or simply hand out a few papers and sit in silence while everybody meditates on his own.
In the end, I decided to do just a few of these. We’ll start with a poem, then a reading, then the highest joy – a singing meditation, the glory of God come among us through song. Bob and Mary graciously agreed to sing, and if we know the words we can join in, though I heard a rumor that something they sing will be Czech, so…….maybe better just to listen!
Who is there on earth to tell the tale?
Who is there on earth to rip the curtain and say
It is your God!
Flailing in the hay with matted hair
Not good enough for a room
And consigned to a stall
With muck and stench
The only light the angels’ song
And the glisten of a tear from
A young mom marveling at the beauty
Of a long awaited child
And a worried husband
Wondering how to ward off
The insulting and the apathetic
To protect God,
God in a little one
With pudgy hands and human sweat?
Who is there on earth to speak of it?
Amidst the unconcern of a horde
That won’t sacrifice an ion of comfort
To make room for a pregnant girl
In haste to welcome God?
Who is there to declare, "Look, it is your king!"
A few misfits
in from the fields
To see a question raised
By a weird sparkle in the sky?
Who is there to defy the snares of etiquette
And yell that Mighty God is in this flesh?
People might look askance
And be discomfited by the hair-raising
Spectacle of it all,
The unexpected promise
Of something more than we want
(or just what we want)?
Who is there to think of God
Ruling from a crib
With fists now grasping for His mother’s grip
But soon to be driven into wood?
God in these insignificant features
Cute in a baby
But ultimately inconsequential?
Who on earth is there who can break from presents
Long enough to see the gift?
Who is willing to kneel in a manger
For more than a moment
Not just to look in awe
But to change the diaper, too?
To smell the reality of manhood
And not just the sweetness of a baby’s breath?
Who is there to trek through treacherous sands
And rub grit from bleary eyes
For the sake of a God
Who builds wagons – an automaker –
Rather than palaces?
Who is there to be guided by a child
Who is too big for britches
And bigger than an ego
Nurtured by false hopes and promises
Of a more immediate gain?
Who is there to stand up and cry out
I love the Lord!
More than meat on Friday
More than sex without love
More than football on New Year’s Day
More than the opinion of my friends
More than the job
More than family peace
More than the appearance of piety
And more than rest?
He didn’t get much
In that stall
In that church
In that wedding
Or on that hill.
And who is there to notice?
To give more than a glance
To a God incarnate
In the manger
In the mangy
In the little
In the desert
In the hoosegow
In the fancy box
And in the desolation of the wail
"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"
painting by Beate Heinen, 1986
This reflection was presented on the Feast of Saint Elizabeth Seton, 2002, so these few segments are included:
"Annunciation Day I shall be made one in Holy Communion with Him Who said, 'Unless you eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, you can have no part with Me.' I count the days and hours. Yet a few more of hope and expectation, and then..…..At last, God is mine and I am His! Now let all go its round. I have received Him!"
She was able to receive Holy Communion one last time on January 1, Feast of the Circumcision. The previous night the Sister who watched with her urged her to take a refreshing drink to cool her feverish throat. She, whose heart was set on the coming Communion with her dearest Lord, brushed aside the drink, answering, "Never mind the drink. One Communion more and then Eternity."
return to Feast of All Saints Home Page