Bodies are important to God.
It can be easy to overlook the embodied nature of our God’s story, especially during this season. Our eyes turn to the ethereal, heavenly messengers, to the ancient voices passed down in our hymns: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” But at its heart, this is a story about how the God of the Ages came down to be Emmanuel, God with Us.
God with a body.
The Incarnation is the story of God’s taking on the fullness of our human vulnerability. God in a fetal body, vulnerable to every factor and disease that harms God’s own human creation. God in a child’s body, completely dependent on God’s own creation. God in a body, experiencing disease, discomfort, loss. Today’s scripture reminds us that God’s plan wasn’t for us to make endless sacrifices and offerings—it was to be with us. And this still is God’s greatest desire: to be with us, wholly and without reservation, with nothing standing between. Enfleshed. Embodied.
Many of us are very practiced at distancing ourselves from our bodies. We are overworked and underslept. We might frequently ignore cues of hunger, illness, or discomfort in pursuit of something “more important.” But it is God on High who values our bodies, took on a body, found wisdom and teaching in its needs and wants. May this scripture lesson remind us that there is value in our created bodies and that in embracing and learning from our created selves, we may find God there.
Take a few moments today for embodied prayer. This might be through breathing, stretching, dancing, or a run. Where have you been ignoring or downplaying the signals you get from your body? What do you need to feel at ease and joyful in your created, God-given body today?
As Christians we understand that our faith is rooted in the ongoing story of God’s faithfulness to God’s people. Micah celebrates this story, prophesying that the true king of Israel will one day come from the small village of Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Luke features women prominently throughout his Gospel. The two readings from Luke this week highlight the prophetic insights of Elizabeth and Mary. Mary visits Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John, God’s messenger. After Elizabeth identifies Mary as the mother of the Lord, Mary breaks into song, understanding that her story is tied to the fulfillment of God’s promises going back to Abraham. Little does she know that her son will one day offer his body as a sacrifice for all, as Hebrews tells us.
Read Micah 5:2-5a. What small beginnings have yielded great results in your life?
Read Psalm 80:1-7. What is your song of praise to God today? How will you share it?
Read Hebrews 10:5-10. How does your body help you to experience God?
Read Luke 1:39-55. How has God spoken to you through a joyous meeting with another person?
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