Jesus as an embryo: reflections for Advent

Ran across this today, interesting to consider. One quote from the article:

“… the events of the Incarnation encourage me that with God’s help, I can reflect a little of Jesus’ love and humility, becoming part of the revolution that he initiated so spectacularly through his death and resurrection.”

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Hi Phil,
Well, as someone quoted in the piece, I would say that thinking about the Incarnation has profound importance for just about everything we should be about as Christians. In this case, the self-emptying of Christ to be the True Human (Phil. 2:5-11) is awe-inspiring, and should have implications for how we think about ourselves as human creatures, and, as Ruth says, how we live in the world. Here’s a poem from Luci Shaw for thought (Made flesh):

After the bright beam of annunciation
fused heaven with dark earth
his searing sharply-focused light
went out for a while
eclipsed in amniotic gloom:
his cool immensity of splendor
his universal grace
small-folded in a warm dim
female space

This poem helps me to ponder the profound mystery that the Second Person of the Trinity dignified embryonic development by taking it up - mysteriously - into the divine life.


Hi Jeff.
I also took note of her comment
"“I don’t see the point of trying to figure out what happened between the moment Gabriel spoke to Mary and a tiny embryo appearing in her womb, with a full complement of human DNA. All I know is that one cell divided in two, two cells became four, eight, sixteen, and so on, until the Son of God was a blastocyst: a ball of cells no bigger than the tip of the finest of fine-liner pens.”
as it is the look at the materialistic/mechanistic process of human development but entirely misses out on the spiritual or metaphysical side of what it means that in Jesus the word of God was made flesh. Once we think about it in realistic terms it is awe-inspiring indeed and has implications for how we think about reality and how we can live in this world. It might make us question the reason for our own thinking. After all we know what the word of God is, as Jesus told us that on it hangs all the law. Surely it is not “abracadabra”.
If I consider the situation in Pristina 20 years ago and in Palestine 2000 years ago I can’t escape the conclusion that we must be rather naive to think that the “primitive goat herders” as Hitchins so lovingly referred to the people of the Bible would have swallowed the story of magic impregnation - and a husband would have willingly accepted a pregnant woman with a magic baby. Surely we must think they did not know where babies came from and why their women became magically pregnant. When did we last do a reality check on our thinking?
If however we look at the virgin birth in reality, we could think of the more likely cause of a surprise pregnancy of a young girl in first century palestine. The question is what would it make unlikely to consider this. Is it that we believe the sin to be the act of having sex, thus to be free of sin for Jesus must mean no sex was involved?
Perhaps we should look at the meaning of sin. After all, God told us to multiply and sanctified sexuality. The sin lies in the act of doing things against the will of God to manifest our own authority. So a child conceived by the will of mother and father for propagating their selves is by definition problematic. Sin, as in the fall is an act of pubertarian self determination, the act of rejecting authority over the self to have you own dominion.
If you look at a child born out of rape you will see them often referred to as brothers and sisters of Jesus for a reason. They are the most innocent people to exist as in them the word of God, e.g. to love thy neighbour like thyselves (e.g. brothers and sisters) becomes flesh if they are allowed to live, let alone experience the love of a mother and a father that is more than a biological one. And if you look at the birth of Jesus in that context it becomes a far more potent story than “abracadabra”. The latter is about “make believe reality”, e.g. the romantic wishful thinking of modern humans. The former is about changing reality. Tell me what other word has the power to turn an act of hate and oppression into a beacon of love and hope? I can’t find any, but I know that God has given us the power to do just that by acting his word.Thus it gives me tremendous hope for the time of advent to know that it is possible to do so. But instead of pondering about the mystery of it all it makes me think of my responsibility. It also makes me realise why it is that we, like Joseph, are in need of being visited by an angel to see things as they are and accept God’s will.
Perhaps one day I will fit it in a poem, but the story as we know it is already deeply poetic perhaps a bit to deep for our use of language in this day and age were you have to fit everything in a tweet.

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