During the season of Advent we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. Incarnation, meaning, God taking on flesh. Incarnation, meaning Emmanuel, which means God With Us.
We were surrounded by rocks that were formed 300 million years ago. There are fossils of things that were once living tucked within those rock layers. The science of paleontology reveals that life on earth has been around for more than 3 billion years.
So, why did Jesus come now? (this was Erin's question)
Why did The Incarnation happen at this point in geologic history?
Could it be, because a very young species with potential to destroy God's great gift of biodiversity needed guidance?
Sure, there had been a handful of mass extinction events over the course of the last 3 billion years, but a single species was never the cause.
This was different. Homo sapiens developed the ability to alter and modify habitats and ecosystems like no other species before. So often this was done to the detriment of other species. In many cases, our modifications are done to the detriment of the planet as a whole.
We have potential to be the cause of the next mass extinction event on planet earth. Perhaps we already are. A biological force to be reckoned with.
But there is hope. There is hope because God sent Jesus.
There is hope because we have potential for good. That's also part of who we are.
Why did Jesus come now? Could it be, because a very young species with potential to destroy God's great gift of biodiversity needed guidance?
There is hope because the baby in the manger whose birthday we celebrate each year at Christmas grew up and lived a life of neighbor love. For you. For me. For all of us. For the world that God loves.
What if the Incarnation, and therefore the Good News of Jesus Christ really is about neighbor love?
Come along with me on a brief theological train of thought...
Jesus loved people.
When Jesus was healing people, serving people, and teaching people he was loving people.
Jesus is recorded as having spoken that he came so people may experience abundant life.
A look at the world around us shows that abundant life does not happen in isolation.
Abundant life happens in community.
In community with other people.
In community with all that has life. Fungi. Plants. Animals. Etc...
Jesus instructed his disciples to love one another as he has loved them.
Jesus affirms that one of the most important things is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Who is my neighbor?
By definition, my neighbors are those to whom I extend love, kindness, compassion and care.
Who should I count as a neighbor?
How about those whom God loves.
Who does God love?
God loves the world (and all living things that reside on planet earth).
To revisit the question, Who is my neighbor?
I want all whom God loves to be my neighbor.
Animals. Plants. Wildlife and Wild Spaces.
What does this look like?
It looks like a circle.
All who are in the circle are those I count as a neighbor to me.
What is the nature of this circle?
It is dynamic and ever-expanding with intent to include all as a neighbor to me, with the help of God. Jesus, thank you for showing us what it means to be a neighbor.
Is this the intent and purpose of the Incarnation at this point in the 4.5 billion year geologic history of earth? Is this why Jesus came now?
To love us with God's love. To show us what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. To empower us to count even wildlife and wild spaces as neighbors. For the sake of a world that God loves. In celebration of God's great gift of biodiversity.
We are a young species. We have potential to squander God's gifts which are not just for us but for all. But Jesus came to show us a better way. By his presence with us still God empowers us to do so.
Biodiversity is a gift from God. When we live as Jesus taught and modeled we may be gifts as well.
As we celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation this Advent and Christmas season, may the light of God's love shine for you and through you for all those whom God loves, human and otherwise.