Word & Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through it, and without it not one thing came into being. … And the Word became flesh and lived among us. – John 1:1-3, 14a (NRSV)
There are very few situations in which a church should ask its members to take their clothes off. I think the boundary training folks will back me up on this one.
But one Advent at Gilead Chicago, we invited people to do just that.
We were making a calendar we called “Word & Flesh.” It combined stories of people’s relationships to their bodies with pictures of those bodies. Nothing too racy. A little underwear. Some side-boob.
The point was not to titillate. It was to theologize. It was to say, these bodies and their stories are holy, swimming with the stuff of God.
It turns out that’s a controversial statement. Maybe even more than a church making a pin-up calendar. It turns out, there are a lot of other voices telling people what their bodies are: ugly, shameful, too big or too small.
Hear the truth: Your body and its story are holy.
If you don’t want to take the word of a congregation that would ask its members to get naked, take the Gospel’s word for it: All things came into being through the divine Word. Not one thing came into being that isn’t swimming in that sacred story.
Your eyebrows. Your stretch marks. Your bald spot. Your side-boob. Are holy.
So much so that the Word decided to try on Flesh for itself.
Incarnate Love, deliver us from every voice that calls our bodies anything but holy.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.