Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shockingly Simple... Simply Shocking... God made Human

This sculpture of the infant Jesus, anatomically correct and with the umbilical cord still attached was displayed in London for Christmas in, I think, 2001. Some people were scandalised by it, because it made Jesus really rather real. For me it seemed a beautiful sculpture - simple and realistic, its shock value being not its reality but its simplicity.

Recently I read a book that bemoaned the fact that most of the images of Jesus we have essentially emasculate him, presenting him more like a holy action man figure than a real person (i.e. devoid of genitalia). I think that whilst that is largely true of the adult Jesus, it isn't true of the infant - numerous Madonna and Child images show a naked child. And this is what is so shocking, not the nakedness, not the authentic maleness, but that God would choose to be conceived and then born fully human with all the vulnerability and particularity that requires.

One of the carols we will sing in our 'Gathering Place' this Sunday is the Iona 'Shepherds Watch and Wisemen Wonder' with its wonderful verse

Who would think that what was needed
To transform and save the earth
Might not be a plan or army,
Proud in purpose, proved in worth?
Who would think, despite derision,
That a child should lead the way?
God surprises earth with heaven,
Coming here on Christmas Day.

It is simply shocking, this shockingly simple way chosen by the one who creates all things.
Don't be shocked by a naked, anatomically accurate Jesus, be shocked by a vulnerable infant Christ who shared our life.

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