“Fully Human, Fully Divine”
Reverend Gretchen J. Switzer
“A hospital patient was in an accident, and she lost all of her senses except the sense of smell only. She could not see or speak or hear. Her mother wanted to communicate her presence, so used a perfume the girl would remember as her mom’s. Now the perfume is not the mother’s essential nature, but is an extension of her real self to communicate on the girl’s level. God also is not essentially a body, but he became human. He extended Himself to communicate on our level so we could respond.”
This is a terrific story to begin today’s sermon because it includes the wonder and wisdom of a loving mother and a lesson about God becoming human to help you and me.
We talk about this, God becoming human, the “incarnation” a lot at Christmas time, but it is amazing to me how little we Christians talk about God becoming flesh the rest of the time. After all, it is kind of the point!
I think that a lot of the time, it is easier for us to think of Jesus as God’s “son”, not as God himself. It is simpler and less bewildering, not as challenging to consider God just overtaking Mary, the mother of Jesus, and just being God’s son. It is more human way of understanding this miracle.
But the truth of the gospels is that Jesus Christ was God incarnate. That God, God’s spirit, all of it, every bit of God’s “Godness” was born in a flesh and blood human named Jesus. What that means is that Jesus was both human and divine. He was both limited and eternal at the same time, both able to die and able to be victorious over death. Christian Theology teaches us that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine.
So why does that matter so much? Because if Jesus were only God’s son, he might still be wicked cool, and loving and compassionate, but because he is God himself, Jesus can perform miracles, Jesus can heal people, Jesus can raise the dead and change mere water into celebratory wine.
This matters because it lets us know that our God has an intimate understanding of what it is like to be us-to be like Andrew or Jim, Jackie or Holice, Barbara or Leigh, to be like you and me. What that means to me is that God can help us and heal us and strengthen us because God knows exactly what you and I need in any circumstance or any moment because in Jesus, God has been there!!!
It is very different living life when you know you are not all alone and never will be, when you know in your heart of hearts that God himself will never leave you all by yourself. God is sitting with us in our isolated homes, God is with our friends and loved ones in the hospital, not only as a companion, but as protectors and strengtheners of the spirit he breathed into us when we were born. God is with us when we mourn the loss of someone we love. God, in many ways, is like the finest of mothers whom we celebrate today-never leaving our sides, making certain we have what we need and loving us beyond human imagination.
This is the core message of the incarnation: That God has loved us enough to willingly experience the same lives you and I live, from birth to death and beyond. Because of Jesus, God knows all our joys and all our pains and our fears and our worries and our dreads. Even now when the need for Go’s Love, all over the world, is so great, there is no limit on God’s power to protect us, heal us, and give us and those we love, the life God has always wanted us to have. This is the unique and marvelous message of Jesus The Christ!!!
I don’t know about you, but I find it very comforting to know that the God who created me and saved me and died for me and rose for me, also knows how badly it hurts when I stub my toes, … or take a fall…or love somebody…or miss somebody we have lost so deeply that we can barely breathe. There is something so intimate and kind about the one who made us, caring so deeply for us that he came to us in such a way. That we would always know how well God knows us and that God came to us IN Jesus so we would know that we are truly understood, truly loved, and never, ever alone.
It is the loneliness, I think, that is one of the most difficult parts of the pandemic isolation. We feel fearful and empty and so, so lonely. Normally we would hold each other through this with hugs or the simple squeeze of a hand. I can pray with folks over the phone or send a prayer online, but how much more meaningful it would be if I could hold your hand while we pray and look you directly in the eye as we say goodbye at your door or by your hospital bed.
Still, I believe God finds all sorts of ways of hugging us – the voice of a dear friend on the phone, the stories of kindness and goodness that are happening all over the world, in the midst of human fear and sadness. God speaks to us through prayers we can find on the internet and in these services we share online.
I don’t know if Sturbridge has done any of this, but in the last few days in Worcester, in my neighborhood, I have seen any number of ‘car parades’ going by the house of someone with a birthday, trailing with balloons and signs, honking their horns without pause and opening their car windows to sing “Happy Birthday” as loud as they can. At first, I was annoyed by the noise (I was working on this sermon) and then I realized what was happening and it made my heart happy and jumped into this message.
I’ve seen the same parades for new graduates who won’t have a graduation ceremony. I even heard of a similar caravan driving around a nursing home carrying signs of love and encouragement and honking their horns ceaselessly. They had called the nursing home ahead and all the staff had moved as many residents as possible to the windows so they could see what was happening. The staff stood with them. The parade participants had also bought or made a card for every resident and staff member at that facility and left them in a sanitized basket at the front door when they left. With a final wave, and seeing a nurse come out to collect the basket of cards, they headed back to their homes.
Now, who among us doesn’t believe that our wonderful God is the creator of these imaginative and compassionate expressions of care and joy? I will tell you right now, that God in Jesus Christ is the author of this kind of care and compassion. God is the source of all our understanding of what others need and how we can respond, and all this comes from the God who has lived our lives and knows what will keep us going. Let me close with a wonderful verse I discovered this week:
“If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been amusement, God would have sent us an entertainer.
Because our first need was forgiveness, God sent us a savior.
Because our greatest need was love, God sent us himself.”