Incarnation and all that…

If we believe the idea of incarnation, if we sense that people saw God, or something of God in Jesus, and I do, we set ourselves a problem. We raise questions.

People want to know how can that be? If we are content with the mystery of not knowing there is no problem. We create the problem by running with the question. The consequences are multitudinous.

Mark just says, in effect, this is the beginning of the good news. My feeling is that, when he was writing the question hadn’t arisen.

John uses logos to get round the problem of God becoming flesh, human. To my mind the most easily acceptable answer in 2022.

Matthew and Luke construct myths. In their time the nature of these accounts would have been seen for what they were I believe, largely fictional, yet true as a novel is true, a sort of, ‘look, it could have happened like this, not saying it did, but’. Then pulling in all the scriptural ‘prophecies’ to justify the assertions. It worked then and becomes less plausible now.

More worrying is that it sets train the whole plethora of myths – Trinity, Fatherhood, divinity over against humanity, virgin birth, Ascension, which become dogma which ‘we must believe’ some would say, in order to be saved.

How much simpler, less arrogant and more exciting to say, IT IS A MYSTERY, I don’t understand it but here in this person called Jesus, I glimpse something of what I think God would BE like as a person. I’m agnostic as to the details but that doesn’t matter one jot! Best of all is God is with us – ‘give me the Good News in the present tense’ – as Sydney Carter put it.

Up! Up and away! – Ascension Hymn

Up! Up and away! Was it really that crazy?
Seems too much like magic, so hard to believe.
His ministry ended. The cross was behind him.
Disciples commissioned, so much to receive.

The Spirit was coming, the mission beginning,
the world was their parish to love and to hold.
Disciples went on in the strength of that Spirit,
a Spirit of power to inspire and enfold.

But that would come later, for now they were waiting,
in hiding, reflecting on all they had seen;
on all Jesus taught them, in words and through wonders,
in all they had heard, of whom Jesus had been.

This Jesus had promised, had challenged, encouraged,
had offered them peace that the world could not give.
And soon all the earth would be spun on it’s axis,
and we share that Spirit, in Christ we will live!

Andrew Pratt (born 1948)
Words © 2011 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Tune: STREETS OF LAREDO
Metre: 12 11 12 11
As published in The Seed – http://www.seedresources.com <http://www.seedresources.com&gt;

Ascension hymn – There are no trumpets sounding out

1       There are no trumpets sounding out,
no fiery pillars in the sky,
no monumental signs that shake,
no prophets with a haunting cry.

2       A still small voice speaks to our time,
a baby weeping from its birth,
and all its being seems to cry:
‘now is the time to spin the earth’.

[Is this the echo of the Christ
once lying in a stable stall,
who preached and lived a life of love,
whose dying offered grace to all?] This original verse can be omitted

3       His every moment challenged those
who heard his call who shared his life,
to turn their values upside down,
to put an end to hate and strife.

4       Now is the moment, now the time,
to hear the cry, to heed the word,
for us to take the path he trod,
however crazy or absurd.

5       He has no voice but ours to cry,
no hands to touch those fraught with pain,
Ascended, he left us the task,
to bring his love to life again.

Words: Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) © 2015 Stainer and Bell Ltd.
Tune: GONFALON ROYAL