“Creation groans and is in agony. We, called to free her, are her doom. God created and all was good, but God gave her to us to mind. Now she labors nearly in vain, yet not without a bit of hope. Ignorant of who we really are, God’s children walk asleep.
Creation waits with patient hope for God’s children to awake. All Creation waits and yearns and longs to hear — the sleepers have awakened!“All Creation Waits, by Katherine C. Keough
“Woke” is a slang term and is short for awake. Not physically awake, but mentally awake and consciously aware. We need to be “woke” to being the Body of Christ. It is very simple. I cannot say this enough, and I wish there was a way to shout it on these pages. Open your ears, open your eyes, open your hearts, and wake up to the good news – God has come into our world, is with us, staying with us, living in us, and yearns to transform and bless all of Creation through us. God comes to share life with us. Christ is embodied in us. We are the incarnation of God, the real presence of God. The Spirit of God has been given to us, is all around us, and is within us. This surprising way for Christ to be incarnate amid Creation is much more exciting than most people realize or can imagine.
It was a terrific surprise when Christ became incarnate in one human being, Jesus, over 2000 years ago. The incarnation was an unexpected event, and many really couldn’t accept it. The idea of God becoming human was too incredible. Many still find the idea too fantastic to believe. I suppose it is even more incredible to believe that Christ is now incarnate in us. It is especially difficult to believe we incarnate God when we look back over the history of Christianity and see the many ways it has failed in its mission. How can anyone believe Christians are the embodiment of Christ, if Christians themselves do not believe it? How can anyone believe Christians are the embodiment of Christ, if Christians behave just like anyone else in the world? How can anyone believe Christians are the embodiment of Christ when they fall back into the old pre-Christian ways? How can anyone believe Christians are the embodiment of Christ when they have brought about so much violence and harm themselves?
When we catch the vision of an awakened Body of Christ, a “woke” Body of Christ, active amid Creation, all things suddenly become possible. This is why Jesus said that what we will do is greater than what he could do while he was present as the incarnation of Christ in our world. Now Christ can be present all over the world at once, in us, and is no longer limited in a single, finite human body that can be present in only one place at a time. Now the whole world can witness the coming of Christ into Creation – all at the same time.
Most Christians have imaginations that are too small, too limited, too narrow. Too many Christians imagine a finite Christ sitting on a throne in some heaven somewhere, up there, waiting to be sent back to earth. Too many Christians just go along with the ways of the world, giving in to all the temptations that Christ faced and resisted in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry – temptations to power, privilege, and greed. We Christians should be the most “woke” people of all, awake to the problems faced by minorities in our country. Awake to the unjust systems that exist in our world. Awake to our history, and how history still affects us today and our future. Awake to climate change and its consequences.
We are the Body of Christ, called to be those who feed the hungry by making sure everyone has access to nutritious food, who give clean and wholesome water to the thirsty (fixing lead pipes that make that impossible), who welcome the strangers at our borders, who clothe the naked, who make sure all have access to good health care, who have a concern for those who are incarcerated and support prison reform. (Matthew 25: 31-46). Wake up – be woke – to what is expected of us.
We are the Body of Christ, but not as if we are possessed and controlled. We are free agents filled with the power of God through the indwelling of the Spirit of God. This venture of God is, and has always been, a partnership and collaboration with humanity. We are intimately involved in a great divine and cosmic dance. We can choose to be wall flowers, sitting out the dance, and God will continue to ask us, persuade us, to join in the dance. But God does not and will not coerce us into the dance. Knowing that people are free to “sit it out” drives me crazy, and I even feel angry, because then the kingdom of God does not grow. However, God is not like me. I find it difficult to have any faith in humanity. God, however, is patient, compassionate and loving, and continues to believe in us, and continues to call us into partnership. In fact, God has done so from the dawn of Creation, and is so eager for us to join in this dance. On the other hand, there are a few people whom God has pulled up into the dance seemingly in spite of themselves; God has just grabbed them and taken them into the dance. Once they start dancing they never want to quit.
Perhaps, my beloved in Christ, God will snatch you up into the dance! I pray it will be so.