This Advent, I want to invite you to look at the bodies around you.
I mean it.
Why? Because that is what this season is all about.
This time of year can be brutal. We know we’re preparing for Christmas—the birth of Jesus—but if there’s a common liturgy in our world, it doesn’t easily point us there. Rather, it gets us focused on food, stores, sales, movies, gifts, trees, lights, cooking, carols, packages, and parties.
But the season is much more about our bodies than any of those.
Wait, I thought Christmas was about Jesus’ birth.
It is, absolutely. And His birth points to the human body.
In the first century world into which Jesus was born, Greco-Roman philosophy largely held that only the human spirit could ascend to anything close to godlikeness. Earthly matter, including the human body, was made of lowly, crude, base stuff.
The incarnation declared something very different about the human body.
Actually, declared is the wrong word. The incarnation wasn’t God’s word spoken about humanity, it was God’s movement into humanity. God became flesh, an actual flesh, blood, and bone human being. I can barely wrap my brain around this. It seems absolutely crazy. But it is true.
The incarnation was the Creator’s definitive move revealing how valuable the human person—spirit and body—is to Him. The old lyrics ring true, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth” (so long as we understand “soul” to mean the whole human person!).
Christmas is not primarily an inspirational story, but an incarnational one.
And He did so because He loves people. From the beginning of time, He has had a special place in His heart for humanity, and if we ever questioned it, we need question it no longer. God became a human being in order to unite humanity with Himself.
Through this lens, I wonder if there may not be an intentional scheme to keep us distracted and busy through this time of year. We have an enemy who does not want us to know the truth about what God has done and what that means about the value and dignity of who we are.
So as you shop, stand in lines, look at photos, visit friends and family, sit in traffic, travel, and bump into a hundred friends and strangers every day, practice noticing the body of each one. And as you move about embodied this Christmas—getting dressed, looking in the mirror, prepping, shopping, cooking, wrapping, listening, speaking, singing—consider your own body and its value to God that He would become flesh to rescue yours.
God knows each one by name, and He has made known once for all His incredible love for us all. Including you.
Question: Do you think of your own body as a window into the meaning of Christmas? What might happen if you do?
Want to hear more this week? Check out the latest Becoming Whole podcast; An Embodied Advent