“I’m called to share in the risk of incarnation”

“We long for words like love, truth, and justice to become flesh and dwell among us. But in our violent world, it’s risky business to wrap our frail flesh around words like those, and we don’t like the odds.”

These words are from one of the best reflections on Christmas I’ve read in a long time. The “true meaning of Christmas” may be the most overused, hackneyed holiday-special cliche of all time but it’s exactly what author Parker Palmer gets at in his essay The Risk of Incarnation.

Is the event of the Incarnation just God taking flesh as an adorable baby to charm us once a year? Or is it radically life-changing, a call, a challenge, a guide to living our lives?

Parker writes, “…I know I’m called to share in the risk of incarnation. Amid the world’s dangers, I’m asked to embody my values and beliefs, my identity and integrity, to allow good words to take flesh in me. Constrained by fear, I often fall short — yet I still aspire to incarnate words of life, however imperfectly.”

“An infant in a manger is as vulnerable as we get.” he states. “What an infant needs is not theological debate but nurturing. The same is true of all the good words seeded in our souls that cry out to become embodied in this broken world. If these vulnerable but powerful parts of ourselves are to find the courage to take on flesh — to suffer yet survive and thrive, transforming our lives along with the life of the world — they need the shelter of unconditional love.”

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2 thoughts on ““I’m called to share in the risk of incarnation”

  1. A beautiful reflection that is very apropos on this Christmas Day. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us — what an extraordinary concept!

    The concept of the Incarnation is perhaps not so unique a concept among other religions as well, but unlike the Greek gods who did the same, this was a God who became flesh in order to identify with our human condition and to then offer us life immortal. This was not a divine diversion to amuse the Almighty for a while; this was serious business that was intentional from the beginning of time.

    And what was the purpose of all this? I can think of only one thing: a demonstration of an amazing love that transcends every dimension, but somehow still penetrates the human heart so as to cause a skeptic to become a believer.

    And since God incarnate has now shown us what the human condition is indeed capable of, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to attempt to emulate every Christ-like quality during the course of our lifetimes?

    Merry Christmas, dear friend! May the mind-blowing concept of the Incarnation ring true in your life today and everyday.

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