March 25: Feast of God’s “Deep Incarnation”

In the midst of Lent, with its practices of renunciation, we pause to celebrate, on this March 25, what may just be the most extravagant moment in the history of the universe. Today is the feast of the Annunciation (in proper liturgical parlance: The Solemnity of the Annunciation of the
Lord; celebrated with white vestments in the midst of the Lenten purple). The feast commemorates the moment when, according to Luke 1:26-38, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and she gave her consent to become the mother of the Incarnate Lord. With her “yes,”Mary enabled God to enter our world, in her womb. Honoring this stunning moment in time, the
feast of the Annunciation has been celebrated for many centuries (definitely since before the fifth century).

Today, living in the midst of ever-increasing environmental degradation and on a planet now clearly in peril, I have been pondering what one contemporary theologian has called God’s “deep incarnation.” Here is how this theologian, Niels Henrik Gregersen, understands this: “In Jesus Christ, God became part of the nexus of the entire cosmos … As a human being he was also a material being. His body was composed of material particles coming from the explosion of stars. His blood was red due to the iron running in his veins. And, like any other mammal, he was hosting a great hidden microbial world (bacteria and other microorganisms) that he carried with him, and without which he could not sustain his life as a human being. The biblical concept of “flesh” has this broad-scale material meaning underneath the particular meanings referring to concrete bodies and the world of sin.” [Read more here, if you are interested: Niels Henrik
Gregersen, “Deep Incarnation & the Cosmos,” God and Nature (Summer 2017), https://godandnature.asa3.org/interview-deep-incarnation–the-cosmos-a-conversation-with-niels-henrik-gregersen-by-ciara-reyes–niels-henrik-gregersen.html].

Today, as we celebrate once again God conjoining divine life and the material conditions of all creaturely existence, although now on a planet in peril, how can you, in your own life, honor this “deep incarnation” today? If you want to continue with your Lenten fast and abstentions, why not try to abstain from plastic, or from the use of a car, or from eating anything other than plant-based food? Why not try to say your own “yes” today, to care for the earth that God not only created but also entered, ever so deeply.

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