Words and Skin

January 31st, 2013
Image © by mtsofan | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

"Ok, I can't shake the incarnation..." a friend emailed me. Since receiving her simple email, I haven't been able to shake it either, even though Christmas is long gone! Rather than the season of God-coming-as-a-baby being celebrated and put away with the holiday, it continues to stick with me. Writes the apostle John in the very first chapter of the Biblical book bearing his name, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (1:14)

Sometime during January the past few years I have chosen a "word for the year" or it's more like I've let a word choose me! I invite many of the folks who come to me for spiritual direction to do the same. Here are some of the words that have been shared:

simplicity, vulnerability, possibility,
invitation, kindness, embrace,
beauty, trust, recognize, courage,
linger, patience, enjoy

At a silent retreat earlier this month, someone set up a Scrabble board and invited people to add a word if they'd like, here are a few that showed up over the weekend:

amend, restore,
peace, be, faith,
rest, create, love

What would happen if the above words "became flesh and made their dwelling among us?"

During church services this past month, I've heard my pastor talk about Paul's admonition to the Thessalonian church and so these words have been repeated from chapter 5:16-18 rejoice, pray, thanks. Imagine if our church communities allowed these words to become flesh and dwell among our cities and neighborhoods!

You know, Jesus never told people to worship him but he did tell them to follow him.
So in the spirit of following Jesus, what if we allowed our word, our little part of God to share with the world this year, to become flesh, yours and mine? Consider what your neighborhood, church, home, workplace (even you) would be like if you became your word. Now imagine if each person embodied the word given to them, imagine if only twelve people did, how might it change our inner and outer worlds? What might it be like to have lunch with embrace and restore, work next to rest and create, sit beside courage, shake hands with enjoy? What if words like peace, amend, kindness, thanks became living words?

Yes, I can't shake the incarnation, either, and that's probably on purpose for it seems that Christmas was not only a celebration but also an initiation, a beginning of something. I can't shake off the incarnation because I'm not supposed to, I'm to put it on! The Word has invited us to not only celebrate His becoming human but also to follow Him in allowing our word to become human, too.

By the way, it's never too late to choose a word for the year if this sounds of interest to you. Perhaps there is one that seems to always show up lately in reading and conversation or you might prayerfully ask God for a word and see what pops into your mind. It might be immediate or something you play with for a while until a word emerges and sticks. May the Word, who is the Author of all Words, offer to you the very word you need and the very word the world needs to experience through you this year.

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