It’s Christmastime! We celebrate the Feast of the Incarnation with lots of appropriately embodied – incarnate – expressions of our joy: special foods, gathering with family and friends, the exchange of gifts, greenery and other decorations for our homes and churches. The sounds of Christmas music add to all of this.
The song “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree” has become part of the Christmas repertoire, but I’ve been listening to it off and on since August, when this song I barely knew came into my head after I spent some time in the apple orchard at the St. Benedict Center. I wrote about that experience in a post called Apples and Manna . The sense of connection with God and of spiritual nourishment from that experience must be something like the mystical experience the original author of this song describes. While the song is often sung at a faster tempo, the words are very clear in this clip:
The Christmas Gospel from John (John 1:1-14) begins with a very abstract concept: “In the beginning was the Word…”, but ends with the Word becoming flesh, becoming incarnate, and coming to dwell among us. The unseen and ethereal God becomes visible and tangible.
The birth of Christ was the Incarnation, but opportunities for little experiences of the incarnation surround us. The wonders of God’s creation – the plants and animals, the rivers and hills, and the skies and land themselves – are constant signs of Emmanuel, God-with-us.