When Jesus came to earth, he made the invisible realities of the kingdom of God fully visible. We acknowledge this in the Nicene Creed in this way:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and our salvation
He came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
And became truly human.
The incarnation is one of the most important doctrines of Christianity. God through Jesus manifested Himself in all of His glory in visible, bodily form! Have you ever thought, “I wish I could experience Jesus like that today?” I think this can be a common struggle as we go through the ordinary days of life. Is it possible to experience the presence and power of the Trinity in such a tangible way? What if we learned to live life incarnationally? Richard Foster puts it this way: “living incarnationally focuses upon making present and visible the realm of the invisible spirit. This sacramental way of living addresses the crying need to experience God as truly manifest and notoriously active in daily life.” It can mean to bring our attention and awareness to the presence of God in the here and now. It is living life sacramentally. We often think of sacraments as the Eucharist (Communion) or Baptism. But what if we could see all of the ordinary occurrences of life as sacraments. Webster defines sacrament as “ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality.” Living sacramentally can open ourselves to being reminded of the divine grace we have received, making the invisible, visible.
I’d like to share a few examples of what living incarnationally might look like. Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Switzerland. We experienced the presence of God throughout that trip. Many times we were not even looking for those moments, but God injected His glorious reality throughout the week. So here are some examples. I admit too that this gives me an opportunity to share some vacation pictures as well! I hope I don’t bore you with them!
I don’t really have to say much here. I am including some pictures of the unbelievable beauty of God’s creation. Talk about opportunities for sacramental moments to experience the divine grace of God and to experience His presence. We may not be surrounded by such beauty like this every day, but every day we have an opportunity to look and observe our wonderful God as He reveals Himself in creation.
One day we were on a mountain desperately hoping for the clouds to clear to get full view of the Matterhorn. Unfortunately, it never happened. But as we walked the mountainside, we were surprised by some of the signage and symbols on the mountainside, all pointing people to God.
A beautiful view of the Matterhorn with a Cross in the foreground
This sign makes reference to the beauty of God’s creation
With the Matterhorn as a backdrop, this sign says “I am the creation of God’s hands alone, and merely His footstool!
A sign in German quoting Psalm 150:6. Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!
The bottom half of the sign quoting R. V. Greyerz that says something like this (pardon my horrible translation skills):
Our country with its splendor, your mountains are the witness to Your power, your Fatherly traits. Everything in us worships you; you have done great things for us.
I subtitled this as ordinary moments and I recognize being on a cable car on the way to the top of a mountain to view the Matterhorn is not really that ordinary. However, in that moment, we were taking an ordinary cable car surrounded by several ordinary fellow travelers. American music was playing in the background of the cable car when all of a sudden a song came on sung by Christian artist Lauren Daigle. Her song “You Say” began filling the cable car with God’s truth about us and His love for us. My wife and I looked at each other, each getting a little teary-eyed in the moment. In that moment, God was speaking to me about one of the nagging struggles and lies I have believed over the years that I am not enough. God had my attention with the first line of the song:
I keep fighting voices in my mind that I am not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
The song continues with beautiful words of truth and assurance from my Father:
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thingYou say I am strong when I think I am weak And you say I am held when I am falling short And when I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of meIn You I find my worth, in You I find my identity
Why they were playing music from the United States in a cable car in Switzerland, only God knows! But right there in an ordinary cable car, filled with ordinary people on an ordinary day, I powerfully experienced the presence of Jesus.
A Mother and Child
One day we were walking down a flight of stairs at our hotel and met a young mother and her child walking up the stairs. As the young child took each step, the mom was saying a book of the Bible. “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers…”. “Deuteronomy” I chimed in and she laughed. She told us her father was a minister and had done a similar thing for her when she was little. On an ordinary walk down an ordinary flight of stairs, we met God in the visible presence of a loving mom and her child.
A Cathedral and a Fountain
One of the things I enjoy about visiting Europe is seeing all of the beautiful cathedrals. They are everywhere and dot the landscape throughout as you travel through the countryside. The beautiful architecture is meant to point our eyes upward and in awe of our Creator. Outside the Cathedral of Bern is a beautiful fountain with a stature of Moses pointing to the Ten Commandments. I marveled at the number of visitors who have walked by that fountain over the years, all with an opportunity to see and hear from God. I prayed at that fountain for eyes to be open to hearing and experiencing God as they pay attention to Moses.
Living life incarnationally takes time and practice. We have to attune ourselves to where God is in our lives in various moments throughout the day. We are so distracted and pulled in many directions. But putting into practice bringing our attention to God is so important.
The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians the following about incarnational living:
This might be a good place to start. What if we make a plan to take notice of our bodies throughout the day and bring to our attention that the holy and incomparable presence of God is living in us. Perhaps stop at varying moments of the day and notice your breathing. Take a couple of slow deep breaths and contemplate your body being God’s temple. How might God be able to do some transforming work in our lives if His presence living within becomes a focus of our attention. I wish you many blessings as you live incarnationally.