“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:1-3, 14, 18)
This morning as we continued our series, The Kingdom and the Cross, our focus was on King Jesus, the One who through His coming, inaugurated the kingdom of God. Our Director of Formation and Teaching, Dave Bindewald shared a tremendous teaching on the Incarnation, reminding us that in Christ, God is not only FOR us, but WITH us. The reality that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine is one of the deepest mysteries of our faith, beyond our human comprehension and yet, it is essential to both a right understanding and practice of the Christian faith. The Incarnation reminds us that God did not send Jesus into the world to establish a religion (humanity’s attempt to reach out to the divine) but because God desires a relationship with us.
We spent a few moments reflecting upon a beautiful icon affectionately known as “the cheek-to cheek” icon. I love what James Bryan Smith says about the work of art and worship:
“What does this icon teach us? I see in it tenderness and sorrow. Mary’s eyes are somewhat sad, and yet there great love between mother and child. I see the humanity of Jesus in the love he has for his mother. There is a lot to notice, but the one thing I always see, the main thing I am drawn to is Mary’s hand. Her right hand is in a gesture of invitation or welcome, as if she is motioning to us, “Come and join in our love. It is a love filled with sorrow, but it is a strong love that can never be broken.” The incarnation is a thing of wonder. The mighty God becomes a tiny baby. The invincible, all-powerful God needs to be burped and fed. But as we have seen, God often seems paradoxical because love is paradoxical. Love loves the unlovely. Power is made perfect in weakness. The last will be first. A person has to die to live. And the great paradox in this icon is that love invites us, Mary’s hand invites us, even though we do not deserve it. Love loves without condition. (James Bryan Smith. The Kingdom and the Cross).
Here are a few questions I invite you to consider:
- What difference does the Incarnation make in your life?
- What implications flow from the reality that Jesus literally took on flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood?
- When is the last time you paused to consider that God is check to cheek with you?
- What would it mean for you to receive the invitation to come and join in God’s love made know in Jesus?
Here is our complete worship flow:
- Praise the Invisible (Daniel Bashta)
- All Creatures of Our God and King (David Crowder version)
- The Earth Is Yours (Gungor)
- Crags and Clay (Gungor)
- Liturgy of Confession and Repentance
- The Death of Death (Charlie Hall)
- Gulf Coast Update
- Announcements and Offering
- Message (Incarnation)
- The Is How We Know (Matt Redman)
You can learn what other communities of faith experienced this weekend in worship at The Worship Community.