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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The end of the Incarnation....

This Sunday we'll have the famous passage from John 14.1-14 where Jesus talks about there being many mansions--or places--for us and that we should not be afraid.   Thomas of course, taking Jesus literally blurts out, "We do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?"   This leads into an even deeper conversation where Philip asks to see the Father and Jesus tells him that whomever has seen Jesus has seen the Father.    But behind all of this conversation is the fact that the incarnation, the Word made flesh, is coming to an end.  I don't know if you ever thought about this or not, but when Jesus is resurrected he is changed, he is no longer simply flesh and blood, but is the first born of the dead and the one who now points to what our own resurrected life will be like.   So this means that the incarnation will lead to death--as will the life of all human beings.   But here Jesus is pointing us to a reality that death is not the end of the story.  The crucifixion will give way to the Resurrection and to the Ascension.   Incarnate life is good; but it is not the end---there is mystery to be found when we understand that we are more than what we have experienced in this world---and Jesus is more than what the disciples have seen.   This of course points us to what Christians call the Trinity.  The understanding that God was fully present in Jesus of Nazareth.  That Jesus is God with us.   That being said, while God can become incarnate, the incarnation cannot fully express the reality of God.  God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is a mystery as wondrous as the promise of life everlasting.   So as Christians we live fully committed to this life--it is after all the only life we know--but we do so fully anticipating that it is not the end of the story, but only one part of that story, just as Jesus is only one aspect of the mystery of God.  

Here's some art that might help you reflect on this mystery of the Trinity.
Domenico Beccafumi, The Trinity 1530

El Greco, The Trinity 1577

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