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Implications of the Christmas Incarnation

Tonight, during Christmas Eve worship services around the world, the mysterious heart of Jesus’ coming — the incarnation of God — will be placed before us in the reading of the first chapter of the Gospel of John, particularly this verse:

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

On Christmas, Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. And being human was made new.

When the Word became flesh, all flesh was changed. This was the moment that Jesus transformed our sinfulness by entering into our sinful human state. This was the moment that made any distinction between clean and unclean among humankind meaningless for the rest of time. Jesus lived as we live; the human being is blessed from that moment on.

And this is not just theological abstraction limited to adult Sunday school curricula or seminary discussion groups. This has real implications in the world.

All flesh was changed by Jesus dwelling among us. The distinction is not whether we have been changed by this but whether we know or perceive the glory, full of grace and truth, that lives with us and in us. Paul called this knowing the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and he saw this knowledge come over completely unexpected people, the Gentiles.

This is another reason why I care so deeply about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusion in the church — because the exact same thing holds true for them. LGBT people, like all people, have been changed by Jesus’ incarnation — God coming in the flesh.

And among LGBT people are those who know that this blessing of transformation in Christ has happened to them and to the whole world. These faithful Christians marvel at the manger scene every Christmas, bowing heads in thanks for the gift of God’s love for us and for all in Jesus becoming flesh. LGBT believers devote themselves to lives of service in the church and the world in response to the Incarnation and all it means to them.

This annual Christmas reminder of the Incarnation fortifies us to continue to broadcast in word and deed God’s Grace in Jesus with all its implications.

This Holy Night may you take in the blessing already there for you because of God with us, Immanuel, Jesus, the Christ child whose coming we mark tonight!

Peace,

Reverend Janet

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7 Responses
  • Abbie Watters on December 24, 2010

    Thank you so much for your loving posts. You have enriched my life in the past year. I’m pleased to “met” you.

  • Janet L. Bohren on December 24, 2010

    Like Abbie above, I too so appreciate your blogs and have followed and enjoyed them all year. I pray the New Year holds many wonderful things for you, and especially the passage of amendment 10A, allowing the ordination of ALL of God’s called people to ministry of Word and Sacrament.

  • Janet Edwards on December 24, 2010

    Dear Abbie and Janet,

    You are both very welcome and back at you with thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts (of course, because you are both so kind, but not just because of that). I hope it has become clear over time that I am sincere in my desire to have dialogue with those who disagree.

    Cyberspace is a strange world for me. I put out the inspiration of my mind and heart with no knowledge of who will read my words or what they will think. It is an act of faith on my part that what I post will touch others in agreement or disagreement.

    When you have the courage and take the time to write back, I treasure it very deeply. I hope you both will be inspired to do it again.

    May the peace promised by the angels to the shepherds be yours, Janet

  • Michael Neubert on December 27, 2010

    The Gentiles who demonstrated the limitless grace of God all renounced their sins. Homosexuals today want to embrace their sin and bring it with them into the church. Light has nothing to do with darkness, sin is incompatible with holiness. This is true after the incarnation as it was before the incarnation.

    You might want to read Scripture in regard to the character of the incarnation: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15.

    When LGBT persons confess their sins they will be welcome in the Church. If they refuse to repent, or worse yet, if they continue to pretend that their sins are not sin – there will never be a place for them in any truly Christian Church. Conversely, any “church” that receives them will cease to be part of the Church.

  • Janet Edwards on December 28, 2010

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective here. I know it is one that many–but not all–devout Christians share as well.

    A host of responses come to mind but I want to share two with you. I welcome and would deeply appreciate your response to my thoughts on your strongly held view.

    First, there are many activities mentioned in both Leviticus and Paul’s letters which are named as sin, but which we do not consider sin today. Two that come to my mind are the eating of shell fish (Leviticus 11:12) and women speaking in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). Though there are many more, these two examples show that our faithful understanding of Scripture has changed over time through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    That is exactly what is happening now with regard to the interpretation of the passages that inform your position on LGBT inclusion in the church. And many Biblical scholars and faithful Christians understand the passages you would cite as addressing something other than loving LGBT relationships.

    All this leads me to ask you why there can be the possibility for reform in our interpretation of Scripture for one human activity but not for another?

    Second, I trust you would agree that the nature of sin was as volatile a subject in New Testament times as it is now. Jesus was aware of this—most of the clashes between Jesus and the Pharisees arose from their disagreement about what was sinful and what was not. I find Jesus’ primary teaching on discerning what is sinful in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:15-20 which ends, “Thus you will know them by their fruits.”

    And the fruits of the LGBT people I know are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. These are Christians whose faith in God’s love and embrace of Jesus as their brother and Savior are so strong that no controversy has been able to shake it. They are models of Christian life and service. This is Jesus’ test and they pass it.

    I want us to get to a place, as people of faith, where the conclusion is not that the church is either you or me. Since we both seek to love God and love our neighbor, I hope we can find our way to be in the body of Christ together. Talking is the way to that destination, I think, so I am very glad we are talking.

    I look forward to your response. Peace, Janet

  • pennyjane hanson on April 16, 2011

    dear michael. i’m sorry you chose not to take the discussion with janet further. she opened herself up to listening, and with respect….as she said, we are all children of God and want nothing more than to do His will and live our lives in harmony with it.

    i would like to just share this with you. i, like you, sin. i didn’t do it once and then quit, since i have come to know of Jesus i have become aware of more sin than i ever imagined in myself. i do not “pretend that my sin isn’t sin” any more than, i’m sure, you do. we both confess our sins, ask God’s forgiveness and make every effort to “go and sin no more.”

    i will share this with you too: i have never, and will never repent of the love i have been blessed with for my wife. that would be an untenable contradiction. i pray often asking God to put more love in my heart, repenting of any of it would seem sacriligious to me. it is impossible for me to ascribe any love…ANY love, to sin.

    i’m not pretending, in my heart of hearts, my love is not sin….i cannot repent of what is not sin, that would render the whole sacrament moot.

    if having been born homosexual were a deal breaker when it comes to entering the church that Christ built, don’t you think HE might have mentioned it somewhere along the way? didn’t He tell us that not one word of the written law would be abandoned, but that it was all fulfilled in Him? not in us, in Him. He made very clear that if we were to focus our energies on worshiping but One God and love one another as He loves us, we will be on the right path.

    loving isn’t shunning or judging. love isn’t condemnation, it isn’t self-righteousness. love ASSUMES the best in the loved. love isn’t indiffernt, impassionate, matter of fact…love is desire…love WANTS the best for the loved. how can you say you love someone and then just as dispassionately as turning the page in a book presume they are condemned….even worthy of going to hell?

    we fail one another in many ways, let us not fail in our love. let’s love with all the love God gives us, let’s ASSUME the best outcome for those we love. let’s prepare for our meeting in the hereafter, then, if we are wrong, Jesus will be there in our dispair, to hold us while we cry.

    i’ll see you there, and it will be a joyful reunion!

    much love and hope. pj

  • Janet Edwards on April 18, 2011

    Dear pj,

    Thank you so very much for your passionate and compassionate response to Michael and to any who wander this way in cyberspace.

    You are proclaiming the Gospel here for the 21st century just as Peter, Paul and John dod in the first century.

    Preach it, pj!! Peace, Janet


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