Are you the sort of person who notices your surroundings? Does the space you inhabit demand your attention or are you able to pass through each place without really noticing the details of it? I must confess that I tend toward the latter. Typically, I am so focused on an abstract idea that my physical surroundings can become a bit of a blur. I rarely slow down long enough to absorb the details of each new location, much less interact with the space in a purposeful or creative way. If I do take note of my surroundings it is usually because some object is impeding my way and I am frustrated by its intractability. I want to simply get past it so I can return my attention to the world of ideas where the laws of physics do not slow me down.
I say all of this, not because I believe that my blundering obliviousness to the places I inhabit is a virtue, but because I have come to believe that such a mode of being reveals an entrenched falsehood. It suggests that the places we inhabit do not matter.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth! God created us incarnate beings and located us within a physical cosmos that He then commanded us to steward. Presumably, it could have been different. He could have formed us as intelligent spirits with no embodied presence within the physical matrices of this universe. Instead, He chose to form us from the tangible material of this earth and placed us in a garden filled with the diverse and fruitful beauty of His physical creation. This fact alone should prevent any Christian from belittling our incarnate existence. But our loving Creator took the commitment to His creation one step further. He became incarnate Himself.
The one who flung the stars into space emptied Himself and stepped into our physical reality. “The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). He was born at a specific time in a particular place and remained bound by the constraints of His location. Every aspect of Jesus’ ministry was mediated by His embodiment and un- folded within very concrete settings and circumstances. This mystery is beautiful beyond human comprehension, but one thing is certainly clear. All of creation, our own embodiment, and the manifold places we inhabit have been hallowed by the simple fact that God willingly stepped into the frame of His own handiwork. He became located in time and space on our behalf.
In this volume of Resonance, we celebrate the importance of location as embodied beings and as disciples of an incarnate savior. My prayer for all of us is that we learn to see our unique surroundings as both a gift and an opportunity. God desires to meet with us in the spaces we inhabit. May we seek Him in those places that we rest, move and have our very being.
Your servant in Christ,