Putting Skin On

courtesy of Pinterest

courtesy of Pinterest

A friend relayed the story of a funeral for a stillborn baby that she’d attended.  As the service concluded, the mother of the child draped herself on top of the tiny white coffin, wailing in grief.  Instinctively, the men at the service stepped back, and all the women, the mothers, came to the grieving mother, to show comfort and solidarity in the midst of such great sorrow.  My friend calls instances like this “primal,” as if they’re governed by something bigger and better than our own often-faulty human reasoning. Though I like her description, I think this illustrates how Jesus is still “putting skin on,” and it shows that Jesus’s incarnation continues through us.

When we lay aside the festivities of Christmas and the lovely traditions we enjoy, we are really celebrating that God is with us (Emmanuel).  Jesus “put skin on,” and when he did that, he became fully human so that he might show us comfort and solidarity in our sorrows, as well as show us how to relish the beauty and pleasures he created for us on this earth. Far too often we think that Christians should be beyond this physical body, this physical world, but if Jesus’s incarnation (putting skin on) has shown us anything, it demonstrates that he loves our humanity and has chosen to be one of us forever. Our very humanity allows us to connect with Jesus, the forever human Son of God, and other people at the same time. So what does this mean for us throughout the rest of the year?

I’m suggesting that any time we follow the gentle prompting of the Holy Spirit to comfort or display kindness to our fellow human beings, we are “putting skin on” the Spirit and showing how greatly God loves our humanity, with all its foibles and frailties. What my friend calls “primal,” I am calling a participation with Christ in his incarnated humanness. “Putting skin on,” for short.

Ecumenical teacher Richard Rohr says Jesus’s incarnation allows us to see how the divine and the human are united in one forever.  But this isn’t all:

“God did not just take on one human nature, although that is where we could first risk imagining it in the body of Jesus. God took on all human nature and said “yes” to it forever! In varying degrees and with infinite qualities, God took on everything physical, material, and natural as himself. That is the full meaning of the Incarnation. To allow such a momentous truth, to fully believe it, to enjoy it in practical ways, to suffer it with and for others—this is what it means to be a Christian! Nothing less will do now. Nothing less will save the world.” (The Art of Letting Go: The Wisdom of Saint Francis)

This means we need to think about whether our actions or words are “putting skin on,” or if they are not. When we instinctively respond with kindness and compassion from our very humanness, whether we know it or not, our primal response is Jesus incarnated. By “putting skin on,” we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus throughout the year and not just at Christmas.

~by Nan Kuhlman






2 comments so far

  1. iamjean9 on

    Absolutely beautiful, Nan. Merry Christmas, my friend!

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Dear Jeannine,
      Thanks for your kind words. Merry Christmas!

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