I have no doubt that Jesus must've been a powerful presence; I like Cynthia Bourgeault's recent interpretation of Jesus as one of the great wisdom masters of the ancient world. But I find the notion that the Incarnation was an event that only happened in one particular unique individual unfortunate. I agree with the writer of The Gospel of Thomas that "divine Reality exists inside and all around you" (Logion 3), that is, we all have access to Christ consciousness. The point of our lives is to become Incarnations ourselves. The philosopher Hegel, who also attended seminary for awhile, agreed. In his Phenomenology of Spirit, he writes that in the Incarnation God has only now achieved "its own highest essence" (1). However, Hegel writes that in the Christian view that Spirit has incarnated in only One particular person, "Spirit as an individual Self is not yet equally the universal Self, the Self of everyone" (2). That is, it is not yet recognized, to use Hegelian language, that the universal Self is the true Self of every particular person.
The focus on a single particular Incarnation also prevents us from seeing the Spirit that lives in others, that dwells and gurgles in the world all around us. And today I have two case studies to exemplify my point. Tom Waits and Neil Young!! I'm convinced I see and feel a whole lot of Spirit flying around in these two gritty musicians, both heroes of mine. The first performance is a live version of Ol' 55 by Tom Waits. When he sings the lines "As I drove away slowly, feeling so holy, God knows, I was feeling alive", I feel the Holy Dove movin too.
And then there's Neil Young. What a creature. He looks like a cross between a homeless man and giant redwood tree. He must be in his fifties playing this song with his legendary band Crazy Horse, and he's rocking and digging in as intensely as ever, playing like his life depends on it. And maybe it does. And listen to the chorus in this song- "I'm still living in the dream we had, For me it's not over". What dream? The dream of the sixties, the dream of a New Earth, the dream of a world where love and justice reign. Neil hasn't given up a lick. Not a chance. Sounds like a good disciple to me.
May we all find a way to Incarnate more of the Divine in our persons, lives and communities. May it be so.