The Embodiment of Christmas
Christmas is the gift of an embodied God. This is the story of God joining us, not only in spirit, but also in the flesh. This must mean that the grittiness of humanity is sacred to God. God seeks to be with us, in the most real way. Author and theologian, Barbara Brown Taylor, helps us understand that “matter matters” to God.
Questions for Reflection
- Taylor starts by reflecting, “I’ve been bathing in scripture for forty years now, and the resurrection of the body is different than the immortality of the soul. So, whatever in the world that is about, it is embedded in both Testaments of the Bible I’ve been spending time with. All it tells me, beyond some level of literal understanding, is that matter matters to God.” What might be the difference between the “immortality of the soul” and the idea of the “resurrection of the body”? What would happen to Christianity if matter did not matter? In other words, if we perceived that our bodies were not important, how might we relate differently to others and to God?
- Taylor says, “God cares about your nostrils” and adds, “I am shaped Hebrew enough…to think you don’t get a soul that is not embodied.” What does it mean for God to “care about our nostrils” and every part of our bodies? How are we inseparable from our bodies? What does the resurrection of the body imply?
- Taylor speaks about the reality of pain: “I am in fact not in control of my life... I think, immediately pain can get your ego handle pretty fast.” How does this realization that we are not in control both humble us and allow us to trust God more?
- Taylor says that in the same way pain reminds us of our dependency on God, pleasure also helps us to see God’s grace: “What did I do to deserve to get to live where I live and look out every night to the stars? Nothing.” How does pleasure help us to better see God’s gift of grace? How is both pain and pleasure ways to know God?
- Taylor says, “The body makes theologians of us all: Why me? Why like this? Why here? Why this long?” What questions do living an enfleshed life make us ask? How are these questions not separate from bodily concerns?
- Taylor closes by saying, “In the Scriptures, I read, those are the stories that we remember and tell, the ones that speak to the flesh.” What are the biblical stories you remember best? How are they stories about human concerns and problems? How are these stories more important than any disembodied “ideas” about God?