Christmas 9b: Vulnerable God

Nativity Keystone from the National Cathedral by Theodore Barbarossa

John 1:14 (NRSV)
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

I am overwhelmed with the idea that God would become flesh. Flesh is frail. It’s dangerous to be human. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The glory of God and the greatness of God’s love is most poignantly seen in God’s willingness to be vulnerable. – Lisa <><

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…
To be alive is to be vulnerable.~ Madeleine L’Engle

Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation, and change. – Brené Brown

We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone — but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.- Walter Anderson

Intimacy is  the way that love is transmitted. Some  say the word comes from the Latin intimus,  referring to that which is interior or inside. Some say its older meaning is found by in timor, or “into fear.” In either case, the point is clear: intimacy happens when we reveal and  expose our insides, and this is always scary. – Richard Rohr

There feeding the angels, here on earth a hungry child;
there unfailing Bread with perfect powers,
here, along with speechless children, needing the nourishment of milk;
there doing good, here suffering evil;
there never dying, here rising after death and bestowing eternal life on mortals.
God became one of us so that we might become God. -Augustine

The sphere of God unfolds into time and space and flesh, unknowable yet intimate.
– Suzanne Guthrie, The Edge of the Enclosure

Intimacy. The word in the Latin – without fear, an invitation into the innermost space. Jesus does what God had been doing over and again – relentlessly pursuing, and breaking even his own rules in the process. … While some Christian men seem obsessed with several debatable Pauline texts, they miss the core – Christ himself – the intimate God, the vulnerable God, the God who moves toward rather than pulling away. This makes our silly debates about feminization and roles quite small. With perspective, we’d keep the main thing the main thing – vulnerably living in and participating in the life of Christ in this world. – Chuck DeGroat, What the Church Needs is Men Without Fear

God shares in the poverty of my flesh, that I may share in the riches of the Godhead.
-Gregory of Nazianzus

The enfleshment and suffering of Jesus is saying that God is not apart from the
trials of humanity. God is not aloof. God is not a mere spectator. God is not
merely tolerating or even healing all human suffering. Rather, God is
participating with us—in all of it—the good and the bad! – Richard Rohr

While we exert ourselves to grow beyond our humanity, to leave the human behind us, God becomes human; and we must recognize that God wills that we be human, real human beings. While we distinguish between pious and godless, good and evil, noble and base, God loves real people without distinction.- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Daily Meditations from His Letters, Writings, and Sermons

Love is not love until love’s vulnerable. ~ Theodore Roethke

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. ~ C.S. Lewis

Extended quote by Debbie Blue
in From Stone to Living Word: Letting the Bible Live Again

“The Word became flesh” is God acting, God reaching. It reveals the lengths God is willing to go in pursuit of humanity, and it reveals an intimate, passionate, and vulnerable pursuit. The Word enters the darkness in order to bring light. Barth says that in this act “the antithesis, the distance, the abstraction that is created by the fact of darkness…is overcome.” It was not God who created the distance: it was humanity; it was sin. And in Jesus Christ, the distance is overcome.

Jesus Christ isn’t God standing back, beckoning fools to get out of their big and loud and stinky vehicles; Jesus is God climbing in the seat beside the fools and remaining there for the duration of the ride. The Word become flesh isn’t God giving up and turning away in disgust when God sees the people eat their third meal of the week from McDonald’s; it is God joining them for the meal. Instead of God protecting God’s good reputation, remaining above all the futility of the human race, instead of God maintaining good taste and impeccable manners, in Jesus we see God entering the paltry ruckus of life as we know it. It looks foolish. But it reveals, perhaps, something about how God feels about us. It was always in God’s heart to give up glory and power in order to achieve union. In the story John tells, wisdom plays the fool in order to be with us. The story of the Word become flesh is the story of God with us in an incredibly vulnerable way.

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