The price of incarnation

          When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing…
                           —Matthew 11.2

Wait. John was in prison?
Oh, yeah. Right.
When you defy the Empire, it resists.
The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness doesn’t relent.
This is the awful rub of Incarnation.
God enters our suffering, and we object.
The Child of Heaven comes in human form
not just to enjoy the pleasures of having a body
but to endure the persecution of the body,
to resist evil with one’s flesh,
to thwart our systems of privilege and exclusion
with a vulnerable body,
to suffer many insults,
to see the inside of many prisons,
to die on many crosses.
And yet Christ comes.

We prepare for the coming of such a Christ
by mirroring the mystery of incarnation:
to touch the suffering of the world,
to mourn with those who mourn,
to enter into the prisons of those we love—
and to feel the teeth of evil fighting back,
and its anger and violence,
to endure recrimination from those we confront,
to bear the cost of justice, the price of flesh.
We will be punished for our light.
But take courage: in our lonely cells we will know
the Holy One is with us, the light within us.
Even in the shadow of the Empire
the poor hear good news, the oppressed are set free.
This is how Christ comes into the world.
This is how we prepare a way.


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