Will we follow?

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory…. full of grace and truth.”

-John 1:14


In the old days…. the VERY, VERY old days…. humans were tribal out of existential necessity. Safety was secured in the company of those with whom one was related and had known since birth.  This advantage of allegiance to the known and fear of the unknown was so profoundly significant that over countless years it became hardwired into the very biology of the species.  Those who possessed the wariness and the fear survived more reliably than did those who did not.  And so, countless generation after countless generation the trait of fear was reinforced until it became second nature to fear and debase the outsider.


richreading 20130502And God was grieved. For God did not create humans with the intention that the “other” should be hated and feared.  But what could God do?


Well…. God could love. And so, God did love.  And setting aside all divine prerogative, the Holy One did the absurd… the Holy became human.  In so doing the Divine contradicted the wisdom of natural selection and crossed boundaries so wide as to be unthinkable…. unimaginable… and joined sides with…. became one with…. you and me.


Was God fearful in so doing? It was a risk, buy cipro in mexico after all.  God is, by human standards, the ultimate outsider.  Humans have a poor record with outsiders.  But God took the risk and lived among us and taught and preached and healed and listened and prayed….and changed human history.


And on this Christmas – as at EVERY Christmas – the inheritors of the story face a miniature version of the challenge God faced. Will I keep to my own, or will I build bridges to those who are unknown…? who may even do me harm?


If the only criteria for choosing is personal safety, then the answer is simple. Look what happened to Jesus, after all.  But if the criteria something bigger than myself, then it’s not so easy.


Yes, the Word became flesh and lived among us. The word crossed all those boundaries to let us know that we are loved, that we are capable of good, and that risk taking is strongly to be preferred over the familiar.

The Word became flesh. Herein lies the absurdity of Christmas.  Yes, it tugs at the heartstrings to imagine that baby in the manger, but remember…. the baby was God, come to entice us into behavior that seems dangerous and unwise and risky.


Will we follow?


Christmas blessings!


Rich Pleva
Conference Minister
UCC in Iowa

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