Incarnations

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Christians believe that God became incarnate, that God entered our world in the flesh of a human.  In doing so, God blessed the material world, in no uncertain terms.  Things—bodies, houses, tools, works of art—are all good.  Though we might misuse the material world from time to time, God made it, and God makes it holy. 

One of the most important ways that we experience God’s ongoing work of incarnation is through the sacrament of Holy Communion, Christ’s Body and Blood. The gift and mystery of this sacrament is the focus for this Sunday, with its Latin nickname for the Body of Christ, “Corpus Christi.” Since at least the thirteenth century, Christians have used the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, and the subsequent weekend to reflect on the Holy Eucharist and its place in our life. 

Since this is also the first Sunday after Memorial Day, at All Souls, we also take a lighter approach to giving thanks for the material world and celebrate the beginning of summer with our Third Annual Blessing of the Seersucker.  After the 11 a.m. High Mass (this Sunday, Missa L’Hora Passa by Ludovico da Viadana (1560—1627), sung by the choir), we’ll process outdoors for the simple blessing and a surprise music offering befitting the occasion. This brief service is our take on the “kirking” or blessing of the tartans, celebrated by Washington National Cathedral, the City of Alexandria, VA, and others.  While tartans may represent ancestral links for some, we think that seersucker might better represent our clan, especially as we struggle through a hot D.C. summer and still try to look nice.

A full celebration of the Incarnation of God would give thanks for the Body and Blood of Christ, but also give thanks for our own bodies, the bodies around us, and all the gifts of the material world. Of the various things for which we might be thankful—shelter, transportation, and the stuff that makes our work and lifestyles possible—we probably wouldn’t rank seersucker very high among them.   But perhaps that’s as good a reason as any to bless and give thanks for something simple.  It allows us to lift up a small and insignificant thing for God’s blessing and delight. It is a good practice.

Especially this Sunday, let us give thanks for our God who has become flesh to be with us and to show us how to live in the world with love, justice, and joy.  

About John F. Beddingfield

Rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City on East 88th Street between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave.
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