October 28, 2012 | “Incarnation: Dwelling in Community, Present in the World”John 1:9-18
Today is the third of a four part series on our new church branding and logo. As with many things, it is a tool to help us communicate what God is doing here.
Our stories of God at work here are about Inspiration Incarnation and Intersection.
Last week we talked about Inspiration with the story in Luke 24 of Jesus joining the disciples on the road to Emmaus. This was in the chaotic days soon after his terrible death and hours since a possible resurrection.
We saw Jesus entering their story and our story. Jesus explained what had happened by opening scripture. The disciples noticed and followed the nudging of the Holy Spirit to invite Jesus to stay with them even before they recognized him. They soon knew it was him and went to tell others about how their hearts were warmed.
What was a tragic story turned into an amazing victorious story. Jesus’ story becomes part of their story and their lives are changed as part of God’s great story.
Inspiration begins and ends with God always reaching out before we realize and whether we know or not.
Today we will look at Incarnation -dwelling in community, present in the world.
Incarnate means in the flesh or body. We often think of Incarnation as one of those hard churchy words. One of my favorite foods is carne asada which means grilled meat. Incarnation, being in the flesh, is very ordinary.
The scripture we hear today is more often heard at Christmas. It is hard to come up with the words to describe or express who God is, they mystery of God and the Trinity, the work of the Holy Spirit.
God was at the beginning of everything. The capital W Word was with God and was God in the very beginning. It reminds us of the book of Genesis, painting a picture of how the world was created. God speaking with power to create and form the world. The Word and God is and are Creator, the Source of all life.
As Christians, our faith is grounded in an infinite God who comes to be with us in the finite and limited body in the person of Jesus. God is not just a spiritual, unseen, mysterious something. God is an in the flesh person, incarnate.
John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, was the first witness (like the disciples to Emmaus and us). He was clear that he was not the light but pointed to the light, to Jesus who is other and much more than us.
As witnesses, we testify to Jesus so that all might believe through him. Those who welcome and believe in His name and embrace Jesus become God’s children regardless of their birth or background.
We see that Inspiration or the movement of God begins with God entering in and ends with us pointing back to God. This is a guideline and reminder as we minister, plan, organize and live together. How are we pointing to Jesus?
In verse 14, it tells us that the Word became flesh and lived and made home among us and moved into our neighborhood. The Message interpretation reads, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
The Light still came to people, though not welcomed. Praise God, Jesus still came. Not just to live at a distance or far away. Right here in our neighborhood and communities to make home. It is because of this, we have seen his glory. From his fullness we receive grace upon grace.
Verse 18 tells us no one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. The Message interpretation says, “No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.” This is incarnation.
In my exercise class I like instructors who do it all with us. I feel we are in it together and am more motivated. If they just tell us to do it and do not do it themselves, then I am less motivated. I still get something out of being led and coached and believe they can do it themselves. I am just more willing to push when they invest and lead by example, sharing and participating with.
Through Jesus’ life and example, we are called to a new way of living in this world. Not just teaching or wise sayings which can be helpful. I find it easier to blow off teaching and make excuses like it is too hard to follow Jesus or it is unrealistic.
But Jesus was actually doing it. That tells me this is what it looks like, tangible, in flesh, incarnate.
There have been movies over the years that expressed Jesus’ life. Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, the more recent movie, The Passion. I recently saw Jesus Christ Superstar again.
I noticed different things out of it since I know scripture better than before. I enjoyed it and thought about Jesus and his relationship to his disciples, the religious leaders, rulers and the crowds. It is not just a story but actual people with more going on than can be described in writing.
To follow Jesus is to follow the precedent that He set. His incarnation – the Word made flesh – is our call to become the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. We are to take the love of God and share it with others.
Jesus’ followers are the hands and feet of Christ in the world, living out his love for people. Not just their own love but to grow in his love. We are to do likewise in becoming God’s children through God’s sanctifying grace, the ongoing love of God. We are to live into God’s grace and be the incarnation of God and the love of Jesus in the world.
Where have you experienced the tangible love of Jesus at SAINT PAUL?
There are so many glimpses of God’s Incarnation here. In how we greet newcomers and each other. Our United Methodist Men helped members move. Bringing food, giving money, praying for those in need, sharing skills and knowledge. Cleaning up, raising money, offering time to serve cheerfully where needed.
It all begins with God who reaches out to us and calls us to love God with all heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbors as yourself.
How have you been cared for by others at St Paul? People extend kindness and care through food, smiles and laughter.
I think of times when the prayer intercessors listen and pray for me at prayer meetings. People offered love when my mom passed by asking, sharing, through cards, prayers and hugs. Those acts of care during challenging times lead me to notice smaller acts of love along the way.
People caring and sharing their love for Jesus through scripture, testimonies, affirmation, honesty, time and generosity.
I saw this sign. It says, “So…what do you do? I’m a cashier. Oh, I didn’t mean what do you do for money… …I mean, what do you do for the world?” What are we doing?
We have a little slideshow to show of pictures from church activities. Thank you to Namu Williams who prepared it.
Where is Jesus being made Incarnate through SAINT PAUL? Please take some time to think about the following questions.
INCARNATION Q’s to consider:
☐ How has God’s love been offered to you through SAINT PAUL?
☐ How do you see God’s love shared at SAINT PAUL?
☐ What will you do to offer God’s love to others?
☐ How does your life and actions point others to Jesus?
Our core values are Inspiration, Incarnation, and Intersection. Your story is part of SAINT PAUL’s story and God’s great story.