Incarnation: Weekly Summary

Incarnation

Summary: Sunday, December 22—Friday, December 28, 2019

God, who is Infinite Love, incarnates that love as the universe itself. Then, a mere 2,000 years ago, as Christians believe, God incarnated in personal form as Jesus of Nazareth. (Sunday)

Divine incarnation took the form of an Indwelling Presence in every human soul and in all creatures, but each in a unique way. (Monday)

Remember, when we speak of Advent or preparing for Christmas, we’re not just talking about waiting for the little baby Jesus to be born. We’re in fact welcoming the Universal Christ, the Cosmic Christ, the Christ that is forever being born in the human soul and into history. (Tuesday)

What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God 1400 years ago and I do not give birth to the Son of God in my own person and time and culture? . . . We are all meant to be mothers of God. —Matthew Fox, paraphrasing Meister Eckhart (Wednesday)

An incarnational worldview is the only way we can reconcile our inner worlds with the outer one, unity with diversity, physical with spiritual, individual with corporate, and divine with human. (Thursday)

The traditional understanding of the Incarnation is that the Person of Christ subsists in two natures, a divine nature and a human nature. —Beatrice Bruteau (Friday)

 

Practice: The Meaning of Life

Michael Lerner is an American rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue in Berkeley, a political activist, and the editor of Tikkun, a Jewish interfaith magazine. Rabbi Lerner has shared my work with his audiences, noting the message of love and justice that flows through all the Abrahamic faiths and touches on all the great religious and spiritual traditions. In today’s practice, Rabbi Lerner imagines an education for the future where students would learn to engage in studies that would prepare them for spiritual transformation. In alignment with our consideration of “incarnation,” one of the topics students would explore is “Meaning of Life.” Lerner explains:

In this stream, students would learn about the various ways people have sought to discover a framework of meaning for life. Students would study art and poetry, music and dance, world literature and philosophy, religions and forms of spirituality. They would be encouraged to consider their own paths for finding meaning, and to develop rituals, poetry, music, and dance that fit the lives they are shaping for themselves or as part of ongoing communities of meaning.

Students would also be exposed to the range of human suffering, projects and strategies for ameliorating or reducing suffering, and the range of responses and attempts to give meaning to the suffering and the attempts to be with suffering without giving it any larger meaning. They would also be exposed to the ways people have sought to find meaning through community action, mutual support, and love. Many students will have already had their own exposure to suffering in their families and communities, but the school situation will give them a different a take: an opportunity to reflect on suffering and its meaning. So, too, students will explore experiences of unity, mystical luminosity and joy that are as much dimensions of life as suffering and cruelty.

Finally, students would be encouraged to prepare of a rite of passage that they, together with parents and teachers as advisors, devised for themselves: a kind of “hero’s quest” in which they were initiated into the realities of some aspect of adult life. Adapting from suggestions made by [Zen Roshi] Joan Halifax, I suggest that such a rite of passage would involve going through a process that would include:

  1. Plunging into some (carefully discerned) arena of activity
  2. Allowing oneself to separate from familiar paths and ways of coping so that one can “not know”
  3. Allowing oneself to experience confusion, fear, and disorientation without jumping into denial or easy resolution of conflict
  4. Healing oneself and incorporating into one’s being the knowledge learned as part of this process
  5. Ending with a firm determination to liberate oneself and the world from suffering.

[While] it could be argued that many students have already gone through stages “1” through “3,” few get to “4” or “5.” Commitment to healing oneself and making a commitment to liberation for self, others, and the world is an essential part of spiritual transformation. [1]

Reference:
[1] Michael Lerner, Spirit Matters (Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.: 2002), 264-265.

For Further Study:
Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1997, 2016)

Matthew Fox, Christian Mystics: 365 Readings and Meditations (New World Library: 2011)

Matthew Fox, Passion for Creation: The Earth-Honoring Spirituality of Meister Eckhart (Inner Traditions: 2000)

Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014)

Richard Rohr, Franciscan Mysticism: I AM That Which I Am Seeking (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2012), CD, MP3 download

Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019)

Image credit: Flight into Egypt (detail), Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1923, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Once we can accept that God is in all situations, and that God can and will use even bad situations for good, then everything becomes an occasion for good and an occasion for God. —Richard Rohr
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