This year has further propelled us into ‘excaration.’ What is that you might ask? It summarises the technological and societal trends which take us away from bodily presence with others.
Children communicate through their phones even though they are in the same room. Doctors focus on screens and numbers and rarely touch patients. Self-service check outs mean you don’t even need to acknowledge the workers in shops.
In the church the temptation has always been there to be ‘pastored’ through the great writers whose books a Christians can read, or the sermons you could get on tape or CD. But with the internet, you now can have thousands of churches you can watch not just the sermon, but the whole service and feel like you are a part of it.
COVID-19 accelerated these patterns in many ways. But perhaps it also further revealed the shallowness of it, and irritated within us a desire to not connect more frequently and widely as we can through technology, but more deeply and humanly. In person, in the flesh, warts and all, in sickness and health, shaking hands, pats on the back, hugging, laughing and crying. Opening a bible, praying together and singing.
So, this Christmas, how much greater is the news that God came to be with us in the flesh. Incarnation. Jesus dwelt among us as a living, breathing person. And in that body, he spoke to people, touched and healed people, died for our sins, rose, ascended and will return again. He ate fish with his disciples on the beach after his resurrection!
To be truly human is not just to see other people face to face now, but in the future Jesus in the flesh too. That day will come, and what a fulfilling and glorious day that will be!
– Sam Pursell