Easter 2 C – Incarnational

This week, my status as a technological dinosaur was confirmed.

While replacing my cell phone, whose contract had expired, I made the mistake of asking for “just a phone” – not a camera – not a mini computer with a full ‘texting’ keyboard not a combination GPS – web-browsing – book-reading smart phone – just a phone.   The sales rep gave me a look of combined shock and sympathy.

I don’t mind being a dinosaur – it doesn’t mean I’m anti-technology; (I have a cell phone, don’t I?)

I can run a computer, and I appreciate the internet for what it is – a big distraction with occasional bits of useful information, through which I can do my banking, order books and book flights and hotel rooms and rental cars.

No, my resistance to a technological takeover is theological.  I don’t believe God is anti-technology either – any more than God is anti-industrial, or anti-recreation – my theological argument boils down to one word – Incarnation.

Incarnation is a big deal as far the Christian Church is concerned- you might say it sets us apart from the crowd – for God chose to appear – in the flesh, as we understand it – in the person of Jesus, whom we call The Christ.

Having tried several other applications – burning bush, pillar of fire, thunderous heavenly voice, badly dressed desert prophets – God ultimately chose to ‘take a meeting’, and that has made all the difference for us.  Incarnation is what makes the church different from the culture – especially this culture, that has come to believe that technology can make everything (including relationship) simpler and better.

Now, I have encountered people in on-line forums with whom I have had meaningful dialogue.  I have reconnected with classmates, caught up on the news, discussed and debated the state of the church.  But none of these things, in the end, are as satisfying as a meeting over lunch, or a conversation shared in the course of an otherwise tedious road trip.

Nothing beats seeing the look of discovery on a friend’s face when you tell them your good news; there’s no gift like an encouraging smile when you share your dreams, or confront your fears with someone you’ve come to trust.

That is the gift that the disciples receive on this day, in that locked room.  The technology of their world, rough as it might seem to our advanced eyes, has been turned against them.  They are no longer welcomed in the usual social circles.  In the eyes of the world they are accomplices, not apostles.  They are isolated and afraid, and rightly so, when Jesus comes into their midst.

Yet He would banish their fears by being with them.  He will set their minds at ease by showing them his reality – letting them touch and wonder.  He will do this as long as it is necessary – one week later, for Thomas, he offers the same solution.

That personal contact and gathering together – to share the good news that all is not lost – to remember the world has not conquered – becomes the hallmark of the followers of Christ – the backbone of the Christian church.  The church remains different because we share this passion for personal contact.  Because we insist on gathering together, sometimes in fear (though rarely with the doors locked these days) so that we might see and believe that Jesus is raised – that hope is not lost – that God is with us.

In an article in the Christian Century (discovered on-line) on the importance of Incarnation throughout the story of Jesus, Margaret Geunther writes:

“Jesus’ appearance in the midst of his frightened friends is a story of incarnation, and reminds us that God came and comes among us, experiencing and loving our humanity. We are aware of this at Christmas, when we hear that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” Then the churches fill, and even nonbelievers are drawn instinctively by the powerful image of God coming among us in the perfection, loveliness and vulnerability of a baby. Yet Good Friday is about the incarnation too. Jesus on the cross is an icon of suffering, a powerful statement about the flesh and particularly about its terrible vulnerability. His Passion reminds us of our almost infinite capacity to inflict and suffer hurt. Easter comes as a real relief from the uncomfortable physicality of Good Friday…He still comes in everydayness. He still says: see my hands and my feet. Don’t avert your eyes from my wounds out of politeness or disgust. Look at them. Put your finger here. Don’t be afraid. Remember the incarnation. I came among you first in human flesh–flesh that can be hungry and fed, flesh that can be hurt, even killed. Flesh that can embody God’s love.” i

We can’t have this experience on-line.  There is no application – no phone smart enough – to convey that sense of peace and assurance that we get when we gather together, to remind one another of God’s activity among us.

Gathered as a body of believers, the wounded, risen body of our Saviour is made real to us.  Only then can we find the courage we need to face the world for whom he died and was raised.

Amen

iMargaret Guenther “Mediated through the flesh – John 20:19-31 – Living by the Word – Column“. Christian Century. FindArticles.com. 10 Apr, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_n12_v112/ai_16847106/

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