After ten hours of plastic surgery and six facial procedures, Jessica Choi woke up in a recovery bed of pain and regret. Swollen lips from the injections, bandaged nose from the reshaping, bludgeoned jaw from the slimming.
“Embodied Faith” – Sermon by Rev. Brian Combs 12/10/14
She said, I kept hearing God’s voice over and again say, “Sweetheart, why would you do this? I made you perfect.”
John 1:1-18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 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.
In Matthew, Mark and Luke, you’ll find stories of vagrant shepherds and eastern stars, exotic magi and a virgin Mary, a Bethlehem census and a baby boy. But not in John. The fourth gospel has no Christmas.
Why doesn’t John’s Gospel have a birth narrative?
Because John cares about the cosmic Christ, the One before time and space
The world wasn’t ready for Jesus’ birth
Because John’s adult Jesus is only meant for adult Christians
So the world wouldn’t include Santa in their nativity scene
The crooked nose doesn’t need to be pierced; the sagging stomach doesn’t need to be tattooed; our head-to-toe shame doesn’t need to be hidden behind a fig leaf. Body isn’t a four-letter word to be nipped and tucked, to be distorted and distracted from, erased and escaped.
“The miracle isn’t that Jesus walked on the water but that he walked on the earth,” (Thich Nhat Hahn paraphrase) that he chose to dwell with the dust of creation, to touch the bleeding and calm the crazed, to break bread and fry fish, to kick over tables and wash feet.
“An orphan doesn’t gain a parent by reading an adoption manual, a leper isn’t healed holding a medical dictionary, a Savior can’t be accepted by a people who never met him. Christianity is full of people who have encountered this man” (author unknown). Encountered this man in flesh and blood.
Why doesn’t John have a birth narrative?
Because even if you’ve never heard it preached in church, your body is good, created very good. And God is so fluent in the love language of skin that he took up, and keeps taking up, residence in tear and tissue, in bone and breath. After Jesus’ resurrection of the body, God needed new bodies, our bodies, faith embodied.
Post World War II, Europe was level from the bombing. Outside a cathedral stood a large statue of Jesus with his arms outstretched with the inscription below, “Come unto Me.”
Volunteers labored and toiled on the restoration, but couldn’t finally repair his hands. Conflicted about what to do, one worker remembered a poem from the 1500s written by Teresa that said, “Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion… Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good… Yours are the hands with which he blesses the whole world.”
It was decided to leave the statue incomplete and to just rewrite the inscription saying,
“Christ has no body but yours.”