Serving a Scarred God: The Embodied Love That Binds Us Together

The “Embodying God’s Love” stole given to me at our congregation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in October 2011

Hello blogosphere!  I am a Presbyterian pastor serving Immanuel Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia.  Immanuel, for those unschooled in the ancient Hebrew language or unfamiliar with Matthew 1:18-25 , is a compound word that means “God-with-us.”

One of the ways we incorporate that idea into the life of our congregation is through a regular call to “embody God’s love”.  (Interesting.  It just occurs to me that the word incorporate is another word for embody…  Hmm.).   But what does embodying God’s love look like?  What might it cost us?

“There are names for what binds us,” the poet Jane Hirshfield writes here.  Strong forces, weak forces…  Hirshfield goes on to describe how flesh grows back across a wound to form a scar; how when a scar forms on a horse—darker and raised—it is known as proud flesh; and how when two people have loved each other it is like a scar between their bodies…which makes of them a single fabric that nothing can tear or mend.

It is what binds us together that concerns me as a pastor, and more than that, as a human being.   My deepest theological conviction, deeper than any creedal formulation or statement of Christian orthodoxy, is that God is love and that God’s love longs to be embodied in human flesh.  I talk about embodying God’s love so often in the pulpit that I must sound like a broken record to some members of my congregation.  But I do this because I truly believe mercy, understanding, compassion, and kindness—all in their own way expressions of love—are the key to the healing of individuals, society, and the larger world.  Judging by my Facebook newsfeed; the political speech I hear and sometimes speak in my corner of the world (I am one of those people who live “Inside the Beltway”); and the news shows I watch on TV; mercy, understanding, compassion, and kindness are in fairly short supply.

So today, I am committing to begin a regular blog focused on what binds us together—not as members of a particular religion, denomination or sect, but as members of the larger human community—a community that doesn’t always see eye to eye, but is nonetheless inexorably connected in a common destiny.   Nevertheless, I do write from the perspective of a Christian pastor, a follower of the One whose love was embodied in Jesus of Nazareth, who himself was scarred.   It is my hope that in the vulnerability of honest sharing, in relating the scars and triumphs of life in general and my own life in ministry, I will participate with the scarred God I serve in knitting a fabric of love.  Martin Luther King, Jr. called that fabric The Beloved Community.  And Jesus called it The Kingdom of God.

Striving to embody God’s Love,

Aaron

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12 Responses to Serving a Scarred God: The Embodied Love That Binds Us Together

  1. Brooksley says:

    Welcome to the blogosphere Aaron! Great first entry- I like how you incorporated the poem by Jane Hirshfield. I look forward to reading more!

  2. Dear Aaron,
    I love this blog, and I love this post, and I am eager to read more. Thank you for starting this conversation. Yes, Jesus was scarred, and I believe it’s through that scar that He still speaks to us. Blessings on you and your ministry!
    Love, Nerissa

  3. Sabine says:

    Wow, what a great start!

  4. Tammy Lockett says:

    I think it’s wonderful that you’re addressing the connections of how mainstream media presents humanity often times without kindness and compassion Aaron. I think your perspective is much needed in our world today. I enjoyed reading your blog.

  5. Hilda Gore says:

    Very well put. Your blog was beautifully written and I love your focus. As I read it, John 1:14 in the version of The Message came to mind: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” That’s how Jesus came to us. And now you’re “moving into the blogosphere”! Welcome, Aaron! 🙂

  6. Paul Erickson says:

    A blog nicely dedicated Aaron. As one who sits regularly in the pews, I think of the message not so much as a “broken record”, but more of an “earworm”. You know, that catchy little tune that you hear once or twice and can’t keep out of your mind (no matter how hard you might sometimes try), singing and playing over and over again. Humming along and snapping your fingers. Putting a spring into your step. Shining a light on others. That kind of thing.

  7. Bizzy says:

    Yay! SO glad you’re doing this, Aaron! You’re off to a great start, and I’m very much looking forward to your future entries as well!

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