Incarnation is especially significant for Christians at this time of year, because Jesus’ birth is seen as God becoming human. But, as suggested in its definition, and as is evident in the internet resources found later in this packet, ‘incarnation’ is an important concept in many religions and cultures. Myths abound about gods taking human form and then playing out some important drama here on earth. Hindus greet one another by saying “Namaste”, which translated means, “The divinity in me bows to the divinity in you.” In Kabbalism, a story tells of a cosmic accident in which the vessels that held God’s light were shattered, and all of those divine chards and sparks were scattered upon the world. For Jews, our work (tikkun olam) is to collect those divine sparks and use them to repair the world.
In my personal story, I was caught in the crosshairs of two messages…first that my body is the temple of God, and second, that the body is part and parcel of a sinful world. The upshot is that I have a pretty complicated (not positive) relationship with my body. And so for me, just the idea that there exists a divine spark inside of me, if even just a broken piece of light, opens a window. It gifts me with the possibility of knowing my own wholeness, or inner light, or intrinsic goodness.
And when I let myself see the faintest glimmer of a divine spark inside, I begin to see that this is not just possibility, but reality. And it’s not a just a spark that comes from somewhere else, but rather, is something that is embedded in my very being. There is no separation; each of us is both body and spirit, divine and human, broken and whole.
In the story of this faith, while early Christians debated and then decided that Jesus was God, Unitarians came to affirm “the spiritual leadership of Jesus” while refuting that he was actually part of a trinity. Later, the Transcendentalists helped us to recognize that we each contain the divine within us. And today, our first principle affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
What if our principles claimed ‘the inherent divinity and dignity of each person?’ This is not to suggest that we are perfect, but rather that we are each part of a spirit-infused Universe. For when we can recognize this, boundaries dissolve… between the individual and the community, between the animate and inanimate, between present and future, between worthless and sacred. All that is, including you and me, is precious and holy.
You, each and every one, are a beautiful incarnation! With gratitude for your spirit,
~ Rev. Julie