Now in Flesh Appearing
By GRACE SOSA
This is my last semester in my master of divinity program, and I’ll be graduating in December (yay)! The last big paper that I’m writing is about the incarnation in the Gospel of John. And that is such a fitting thing to be writing about as we approach the season of Advent because this is when we remember how Jesus is Immanuel—God with us.
So if you need a little review on your theology lingo, the word “incarnation” means that God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). If you’ve ever had carne asada, you know that the word “carne” means meat—flesh. The God of the universe took on a human body to be close to us.
And if you live in a human body, you know that it isn’t always glamorous. As a human, Jesus experienced all the worst parts about having a body that we do. This means that God of the universe felt tired, hungry, thirsty, itchy, sunburnt, wiggly, and overstimulated. The God of the universe got dirty diapers, skinned his knees, and even went through puberty! The God of the universe ate something that did not agree with him and got blisters and ingrown toenails. Okay, I’m assuming some things here, but you get the idea.
But this was actually an argument in the early church! One group believed in something called Docetism, which means that they thought Jesus only seemed to be human. For God to take on a body was a scandalous idea to them. But the Council of Nicaea rejected this and some other heresies and wrote the Nicene Creed. They wrote that Jesus Christ was “God from God, Light from Light, begotten not created” and that he became man.
If you’re the kind of person who sings more than the first verse from Christmas carols, you’ll recognize those lines. They are quoted in “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” But my favorite line from that song is, as you can probably guess, “Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing.” God did not just speak to us through prophets or visions, judges or priests. When we were far from God, God did not say, “That’s too bad. You need to be better.” God said, “I love you, and I want to be with you. Let me show you a better way.”
As we enter the season of Advent, “O Come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.”
Grace Sosa is director of youth ministry at First Central Presbyterian Church