Creation care and incarnation

Dec 30, 2015 by

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Emmanuel. God with us. Really. In the flesh.

The incarnation means that in the most real and concrete way, God is connected to the physical reality of this planet. God has inhabited a human body with skin, hair, blood, bone. God has had dirt under fingernails, has drunk thirstily from the offered cup. God has been soaked by rain and scorched by sun. God has picked wildflowers and caught sight of fluffy fox tails disappearing into the woods.

Emmanuel. God with us. Really. In the flesh.

Take a breath.

You just inhaled over four and a half trillion molecules that were once inside Jesus’ lungs. Or maybe, if we assume that some of the air Jesus breathed has been trapped and is inaccessible to us, even if we assume that, say, 99 percent of the air Jesus exhaled is trapped somewhere, you still inhaled about 46.5 billion molecules of air that Jesus also breathed. With every breath.

Emmanuel. God with us. Really. In the flesh.

Among the many, many reasons to care about our planet is our Christian belief in the incarnation. Our claim that this baby in a manger in Bethlehem was the embodiment of the divine in a unique and incomprehensible way. God, in Jesus, has been a real, physical part of creation; somehow creator and created; made of the stuff of earth; interconnected with all other living things from the past through this very moment. . . . And this one.

In terms of orthodox Christianity, we move onto shaky theological ground if we claim that the stuff of this earth is divine. But it is the great mystery of our faith that the divine became the stuff of earth.

So may we faithfully care for the stuff of this earth, this earth on which God was pleased to dwell, this earth in which the molecules of God’s very breath flow even now through our lungs. Amen.

Joanna Harader is pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kan. She blogs at, where this first appeared.

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