The gift of the incarnate Jesus

  • November 21, 2008
{mosimage}The church gives us four Sundays to get ready for the enfleshment of God. Four weeks is just enough to get organized for the office parties, gift exchanges, good cheer with good friends, family gatherings, etc. But it is impossible to be ready for God among us, God here and now, God in history — God as a concrete, physical reality. There is no strategy, no program, no scheme that will make such a thing easily acceptable or even understandable. Faith is a gift.

The nature of the gift is a clear sense of Christ and profound communion with reality.
The Holy Land is an eternal and constant warrantee that the incarnation can never be an abstract principle. Where the rift valley and the fertile crescent meet, where Palestinians and Israeli’s square off over their mutually exclusive homelands, the world Jesus inhabited persists. Since at least the fourth century Christians have come to the Holy Land to touch God.

When a pilgrim walks through Galilee, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem (the city of peace) prayers become tactile. The Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, the loaves and fishes Christ and His Apostles distributed to 5,000 are felt in the soles of tired feet, in the tips of fingers and in eyes that open to an old world and a new reality.

Christians never do this alone. We do it with other Christians from around the world — with the Christians we agree with and the ones we don’t. Christian pilgrims circulate among Jews and Muslims who live in their ancient lands and pray their own prayers which connect us all with Abraham.

We pray with words, we pray with our hearts and we pray by footsteps.

These images from one week in November travelling the Holy Land are not just photographs of praying people devoted to God. They are pictures of Christ incarnate now in our world among His people.
Photos by Michael Swan

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