Today's photos are from Justice's baby shower back in November. Justice and my brother Daniel are expecting a baby girl soon: she's due the day after Christmas. This Advent season, I'm wrestling with the incarnation. The idea of God coming to us in a human body is, as Dostoevsky has so eloquently stated, so beautiful that I would believe even if it wasn't true.
And yet, it's also very difficult for me to understand. God became human precisely one time, in one body, and that body was a male body. How am I to understand that as anything other than a painful rejection of my female body? How could it possibly be true that male Christians don't share a more intimate connection to Christ than I do? How could it not be true that God has clearly articulated a preference and a privilege for God's male children in the taking of their form for God's one bodily incarnation?
I acknowledge that the church stands against the oppression of women. I acknowledge that the church testifies to the full equality of men and women before God. I acknowledge that the Gospel has been a driving force in the spread of equal rights for women throughout the world. I acknowledge that Jesus treated his female friends with immense respect, even choosing them to be the first witnesses of his blessed resurrection. And still, I'm still left with this sobering fact: God became man. Yes, God became man as in mankind, but God also became male. What am I to make of that?
Here, I suppose I should assert: I believe in God. I believe that God is good. I believe that God fully loves all women and men and intersex people. I'm just confused. I don't understand. I stand, in this moment, shoulder to shoulder with the psalmists, shaking my fist at God. I stand with my Jewish brothers and sisters, angry with God because I don't understand. Yet. I don't understand, yet. And so I wait, faithfully, for that understanding.
And as I wait for that understanding, I'm comforted by this recognition:
On the day the day that Jesus Christ was born, every cell in his body was delivered to him by the body of Mary. This new body coming into the world, this child, this second person of the trinity, this Immanuel, this God-with-us, was a collaboration between the one triune God who created the whole universe and one young woman. One human woman named Mary.
That doesn't resolve everything for me, but it is a comfort. I'm not making any particular theological claim here, I'm just noticing that without Mary, the female body seems to have been left entirely out of the whole incarnation project. With Mary as part of the story, I think it's possible to tell it in a way that does not create an implicit rejection of the female body. With Mary as part of the story, we are led to contemplate the creative potential of the female body, and the necessary role that that creativity played in the bringing of Jesus Christ into the world. With Mary as part of the story, maybe Jesus' incarnation does not have to be so painfully exclusive.
It's the sixth day of the first week of Advent and I'm still reflecting on hope. Today, I stand in the hope I have that one day all these things will be revealed to me. Until then, I will stand together with my friends and worship the God that came to us in His human body. We'll stand together, male and female and everything in between, together in the love of God, in this life that is the ultimate unearned blessing from our God, and we'll offer that life back to God, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
p.s. I want to dedicate this blog post today to Miss Abigail Webster, who today turns seventeen years old. Meditating on Mary is one comfort I take as a female Christian trying to understand the incarnation, but it's not the only one: I know that Christianity is possible for women, precisely because I know so many Christian women. I know that God loves women, precisely because I see so many strong and beautiful women thriving within God's church. Abby, you are one of those women that gives me hope. You help me understand the will of God; you help me understand the joys of being a woman; you show me, everyday, what it looks like to be a Christian woman. I'm so thankful for the time we've spent together these past few months - most especially for the times we've spent laughing together. I cannot wait to see how your life unfolds before you in the coming years. I know that it will be a blessing to you, to me, and to the whole world. Happy Birthday.