I was explaining to my roommate Jamie the other day why I love advent so much. There are lots of reasons, really, that I love advent. I’ve always loved advent. I love the color purple, I love twinkling lights and candles, I love hymns in minor keys. In
Advent is also a time when we reflect on one of my favorite doctrines: the incarnation. In the Christmas story, God becomes a person. Not any person, a first century Jewish baby in a stable. He gets born. The word becomes flesh. God announces to us in a dramatic, private, angel-heralded event that bodies matter. Bodies matter so much that God needed to become embodied to show us how to live, and to save us. Jesus’ body mattered, Mary’s body mattered. If bodies mattered enough for God to decide they were a crucial part of his salvation story, then they must matter for us in our lives too.
The piece I realized when I was talking to Jamie is how much my love of this doctrine affects the way I think. It’s this commitment to the idea that bodies matter – that our physical needs and location and actions are important – that has a big influence on my scholarly commitments. These material concerns have been largely overlooked, especially by those who study the making of meaning and argument. But through the incarnation I realize that the most profound meanings are made with bodies and buildings and objects, including the person of Jesus.