I was sitting at Centrepointe today during the sermon and listening and thinking about distance and presence. I thought about these people sitting around me who I hadn’t seen in five months, and how at home and welcome I felt anyway. I thought about all the people I had reunited with already since coming home, and about being with my family, and how no number of emails or IM conversations is quite the same as being physically with people.
Derrida talks about how language is built on absence – you write something down, and send it away or leave it and then somebody else gets it and reads it and you’re not there and they weren’t there when you wrote it and it may or may not mean the same thing to the reader as it does to writer. Language in itself creates space between people – we must assume an imaginary presence in order to function at all. But this assumed presence that’s really absence means that everything is built on this shifty ground of absence.
And in this world of absence, of distance, of loneliness, the Word becomes Flesh. God becomes one of us – God With Us. God stops being absent – God becomes so intimately, humanely present that he is born – he grows inside a woman and then arrives in a cave in Bethlehem with a man and a woman and blood and flesh and dirt. He became a person who can touch and hug and bleed and die. This is imminence, this is presence, this is Christ.