“… God’s Revelation Comes Ever Covered and God’s grace comes ever mediated – through physical means.” – Mark Mattes, Lutheran theologian from Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa
One of the things I have loved about this year, amidst loss and rediscovery of gospel truths over and over, is the theology of the cross that has the power to set sinners like us free. We encounter different parts of the truth of this New Testament promise in different parts of God’s story throughout the year. That God becomes incarnate, embodied in human flesh, proclaims loudly that the finite can indeed bear the infinite, God’s Self.
That Martin Luther’s reading of the gospel accounts and Paul are thoroughly anti-gnostic (as though the physical world is evil and humans are to disregard it as less) and pro-matter is a rediscovery every Advent/Christmas season. For why would God almighty choose to come as means of grace for sinners if the flesh were to be something to be gotten rid of or left off. When God comes to set sinners free God doesn’t disregard our earthly estate but magnifies the way God will announce Good News for creation— through physical means. Embodied Grace.
How shall a heavenly King come? If you are like me, not how humans would ordinarily expect. But that is the utter surprise and authenticating joy stamped on the Christ Child. God won’t stop with the “Peace Child” born to die, but God will bring promises through water, bread and wine and the proclaimed word spoken for you. It is God making God’s promises tangible, outwardly conveyed and then inwardly conveyed by Spirit and faith in this tangible element of promise.
Revel in the nature and manner of Christ’s coming in the flesh. Like the very straw underneath and the blanket covering the King of majesty come down for you, God’s glory in the humble means of earthly flesh announces God’s “all is well” for sinners, one and all.
Beloved, Merry Christmas to you all!
Pastor Ruth and Pastor Gary