“It is matter is the scaffolding / of spirit.” This seems to me, on this strangest of Christmas Eves, to get to the heart of the incarnation. God is not abstract, and nor is God a mere human projection. God becomes flesh and meets us in the tangible, the real, the matter, the stuff of life, in ways which lead us to see the depths of the divine in all things.
This afternoon we met for Muddy Church. And the matter through which God’s presence was made known was very tangible. Twigs tied into stars, trees silhouetted against the fading light, fairy lights and written messages of hope – and, yes, mud – all were part of the ‘scaffolding of spirit’ for us in that time and place. And so too the hands that tied the string and wrote the words, the feet that squelched through mud, voices that sang together across the distance of a field, beloved faces revealing the image of God.
I think perhaps this is, for me, one of the reasons I have found online worship almost impossible to engage with. I miss the matter too much. Embodiment matters. Bodies matter. Here, in flesh and blood, in neighbour and stranger, is God. Sometimes I need to see the scaffolding to discern the spirit.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Frequencies of God: walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas” by Carys Walsh. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AdventBookClub or on Facebook by searching for the group ‘Advent Book Club’.