Today I spent some time reading at a coffee shop before Annual Conference began. I knew that it was going to be a long day, but I am less than 2 months from the first session of the Academy for Spiritual Formation. I want to make some progress even on days like today.
I was reading through “God’s Unconditional Love: Healing Our Shame.” Here’s what authors Wilkie Au and Noreen Cannon Au wrote that caught my attention today. This passage speaks of the work of Ignatius of Loyola: (pg. 91)
“Ignatius invites us to imagine the three persons of the Trinity hovering over the earth, witnessing the sufferings of humanity—people of diverse races and cultures, of various sizes and life situations, all struggling and seemingly lost. The sight of human suffering moves the three persons of the Trinity with compassion, and they decide that one of them should become human so that this divine compassion could be perceived and felt by humans. So they decide the second person, the eternal Word, should become human; thus ‘the Word became flesh and lived among us’ (John 1:14)—or, in the poetic language of the Prologue of John’s Gospel, the Word ‘Pitched his tent among us’ (eskenosen)”
I agree with the authors that this approach to the incarnation story is powerfully conceived. I also believe that this passage does an excellent job at pointing towards one of the most powerful truths about the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus is the incarnation of compassion in a way that is both thoroughly and deeply powerful.
I am grateful for the idea that the incarnation of Jesus Christ was an act of compassion. Here are three places that I saw the incarnational Jesus share compassion through the hands and feet of God’s people:
- I saw a colleague and friend bravely call on the Bishop to use more inclusive language when he asked the people to stand for a vote. There were people who could not stand and her compassion and courage in the situation raised the issue which culminated in change.
- I saw my wife drive up with the girls all the way from Binghamton for the express purpose of supporting our friend Kristin and honoring her husband Michael during the Memorial Service. She connected her feet with her compassion. It was beautiful.
- A colleague and friend saw me deep in grief as I sat down in opening worship with neither my best friend nor my family and came over to give me a hug when I really needed it. Compassion incarnate.