There is a unique heritage and character to the food of “cowboys”. The rugged lifestyle required real food. Something with lots of nutritional value to fuel the hard activity of taming the Wild West.
Earthy. Spicy. Hearty. Meaty.
I am no cowboy, but I sure inherited their love of a solid, hot meal whose star was the fall-apart pot roast, savory meatloaf, sizzling steak, gravied venison or luxuriant lamb.
I apologize to my vegetarian friends with their herbivorian sensibilities, but I am an unrepentant and intractable carnivore.
Growing up every meal was con carne…with meat.
It made food so visceral, substantial, natural. It gave me a sense of connection with creation and appreciation for the costly sacrifices that have sustained it since the first animal shed its skin to make clothes for Adam and Eve.
And here is a ridiculously un-Christmasy thought that hit me at the start of this Advent Season.
Jesus was God con carne.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld…” (John 1:14, NKJV)
Incarnation–infleshment. God with meat on His bones. The Divine encased in the same earthy costume I wear.
Incarnation was the ultimate intrusive and invasive act of a God who refused to be distant.
In the act of taking on our flesh He removed finally and forever the myth of separation. He completely crushed our tendency to clothe our perpetually broken living with the lame excuse that the God who knows everything simply cannot understand our predicament.
He just stepped into that predicament and showed us the way out.
The Father even gave Jesus the name Emmanuel…God not only on our side, but God in our skin.
God in your face. God all up in your business.
The unignorable elephant in the room is that Jesus did live as us and that He completely gets us. We can no longer live with the convenient view of God at arm’s length while we struggle to figure things out on our own.
He has already figured it out by immersion.
Christmas is far more confrontational than we like to admit with all our chestnuts, jingle bells and mistletoe.
Jesus elbowed His way from Mary’s womb into our world and lived in the muck and mire of life as we know it. He didn’t skip any steps or dodge any bullets.
- He was God with hunger pangs, hang nails and heartbreaks.
- He was the Divine with sore muscles, sinus infections and stomach aches.
- He was Deity with bad breath, bunions and body odor.
If we fail to see Him in His utter humanity we will not appreciate His authentic divinity. If we don’t see Him freely embrace our earthly actuality we cannot fully experience His unearthly reality.
“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:15, MSG)
God used Bethlehem’s manger to once and for all retrieve what was lost in Eden’s garden. He co-opted a stable full of the sights and smells of life as it is to demonstrate how far He will go to win back the hearts of the ones He loves.
We lessen the true humanity of Jesus to our own peril. He was not God imitating us. He was God invading us. He was not play-acting, He was deadly serious.
He became us to redeem us and to reveal to us the Father’s intention for us.
He was like a mirror held up before the grotesque distortion of our true identity to show us who we really look like–our Father.
He was not God in disguise…He was God in us.
He still is.
By His Spirit He still lives in flesh–yours and mine. And His intention toward incarnational reality has never changed. (1 John 4:17, PHILLIPS)
“…for we realize that our life in this world is actually
Like Jesus, in our world we too are God…con carne.
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee
born this happy morning
Jesus to Thee be all glory giv’n.
Word of the Father
Now in flesh appearing.
O come, let us adore Him!