And the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among people, and God will dwell with them. They will be God’s people, and God will be with them and be their God.” Revelation 21:3
New Testament scholar, Barbara Rossing, considers the two texts cited here as exemplifying what the “rapture” of God is truly about. These texts stand in sharp contrast to end-times predictors who portray the rapture as God abiding “somewhere up there” and taking the faithful from earth up into heaven. These texts portray God’s rapture not as God removing the divine self from the earth, from humanity, or giving human beings the goal of aspiring to be “raptured up to heaven” at the end of life.
Rather, these verses depict the rapture as God choosing to be incarnate on this earth, to live among ordinary people like you and me. The incarnation of God in Jesus is that choosing…that desire for God to come close to us, be right next to us, living, moving and breathing “among us.”
The incarnation of God in Jesus in the form of an infant born among stable animals shows the radical, countercultural way God acts in the world, not apart from but among people.
If you are a person who has generally thought of God as being “up there” or “out there,” how about reflecting deeply this Christmas Day on these texts from John and Revelation? What difference would it make in your life, and your sense of the presence of God in your life, if you thought of God as being right next to you, as near as your own breath, taking up residence in your home and heart?
God has chosen to be raptured down to earth, to take up residence in your life. On this Christmas Day, will you let him in? And if you are not sure of the answer to that question, consider that God comes anyway, whether we are ready or not, whether we accept him or not, whether we fully believe in all of this, or not.
That is the Good News of the Gospel. A blessed Christmastide to you all!
Reverend Dr. Elise Brown, Executive Minister, Marble Collegiate Church