Embodying Advent Series

23: Embodying Prophecy

Lectionary Reading:

Luke 2:1-20


This week’s embodiment message is one which offers us space to fully enter, in our bodies. I encourage us to sit for a few minutes, inviting our bodies into this space.

As we read through the verses in Luke, what we see is an interesting (and I’d say, intentional) happening: Jesus’ birth - of which so much is focused on today, and so much was anticipated for back then, takes up two verses of the Gospel of Luke. Two.

And yet. The story of shepherds being visited by an angel, and their response and journey, takes up thirteen verses. Why this focus and time spent on poor Jewish shepherds? I think the answer is the same reason that angels also chose to visit Mary, a young woman of low social importance and power, and the Magi, who were Gentiles outside of the religious realm of the righteous and lawful.

The reason we focus on shepherds this week, and the reason scripture spends thirteen verses telling their story, is because the story of God - truth, justice, hope, love - is an embodied prophecy; one that takes into account those that society disregards, and one that sees, affirms, and includes their context in the message and movement of what is happening.

The people that God imparts God’s message to, are as a part of that message, as the message itself. Our bodies and stories are part of the prophetic coming of Christ, today, as much as a baby in a manger was thousands of years ago.

In 2 Corinthians 3:2-6, it says

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all; and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Friends, you - fully - are the embodied prophecy of heaven on earth, today. You are the letter, and the message is one “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God”.

Though the systems may not be working for our good, or believing in our story, God is. The messengers and bearers of God’s message were those outside of society’s pedestals of power; both religiously and socially.

Where do we see movements and messages like this today?

The Movement for Black Lives, Standing Rock and Indigenous rights, Migrant rights, Trans rights, Sex Worker rights. These bearers of messages that society would rather drown out, reiterate what God did and what God does: that our skin, and our context, matters as much as the message itself--and in fact, it is an integral part of the message itself.

Friends: What message do you carry in your body, in your very bones?

What message do you speak to yourself when no one is listening? What message do you carry to others about their context, and their bodies? Is it holy, true and good, or does it seek to shame you or others?

I encourage us to sit with our bodies once more, and ask ourselves what message we have been carrying in them. I encourage us to ask if our message is one of holy fullness, an invitation of all we are into the story, or one of shamed scarcity, one that denies context and story.

Your body is the incarnation of divinity today. Your context and story are as much a part of the message as the overall message itself. As we remember the shepherds’ (and Mary and the Magi’s) story, may you remember that you are here for a reason, that God celebrates you, and that God seeks to affirm and tell your story as a testament to what hope, joy, and truth truly mean; incarnated in flesh, God with us, today.

Grace and peace.