Oct 19, 2010

The Arts and the Incarnation

As we move closer to the Christmas Season, I always find myself meditating on the mystery and the glory of the Incarnation.  God becomes flesh.  And not just that - He goes so far through His Holy Spirit to dwell in us!  On the one hand this seems metaphysically outrageous, religious nonsense.  On the other hand, it is actually our only hope - "Christ in us, the hope of glory" (see the entire argument in Colossians 1:13-27). 

This makes the Incarnation a missional move by God, Who employs the incarnation to rescue and ransom His beloved.  The implications of this, when married with Christ's mandate to "seek first the Kingdom of God", are that incarnational and missional living is what we were born for, what we were created to do, and as such, are never more God-like ourselves than when we emulate Him by living accordingly. 

I have often wondered (I guess because my mind works this way!), who "proclaimed" the better sermons - Billy Graham, or Mother Theresa.  This may seem a non-sequitur, but the question begs a deeper truth.  Proclamation is not only a matter of verbal message - Christ is the Word and the Image of the Invisible God, and we are to follow in His steps, not only intellectual collections of correct doctrine, but also living and breathing imitations of Jesus who care, cry, bleed, pray, worship, live, and die.

"The historic argument for the use of the arts in worship is grounded in the Incarnation. The claim is that God, by becoming a person, sanctified physical and material reality as a vehicle for spiritual presence. He comes to us through flesh and blood. Why, then, shouldn't we accept appropriate art forms as visible means through which we offer our praise?"

Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God's Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 12-13.

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