Jesus, we Christians must remember, was not content to be a removed deity, off in the sky judging humanity and moving efforts from the heavens. The story of Gospels is the story of an incarnational God – a God who not only walked among men and women, but was one of them. A lord who did not lord, a religious leader who welcomed all into the work of ministry. The story of the Gospels is, therefore, a testimony against centering and lording forces such as imperialism, statism, and capitalism, an alternative to presidents and corporations.
In that sense, however, the greatest remaining legacy to the witness of the incarnation in the US may not reside in the four walls of the institutional church. It does not belong to the power-hungry Religious Right in its various incarnations (let alone the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association). It does not belong to the Republicans, nor to the Democrats (shockers, I know!). But it also doesn’t honestly belong to me or my friends in the Christian Left or much of progressive Christianity (at least as far as bloggers) – though I like to think we’re preparing groundwork and pointing the way.
No, those on the ground, those in the trenches, those doing the dirty work – those are the ones demonstrating the incarnation by being and doing interconnectedly. Such actors are in every community of course, but as far as any large body where I see the work of community and salvation being worked out without authoritarianism, without massive centralization, that distinction goes to the Occupy Movement. Still. While the rest of us have just about forgot about them save a few slogans, they’ve been involved and part of communities in need; they’ve been incarnational this whole time.
So how did an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, best known as a leaderless movement that brought international attention to issues of economic injustice through the occupation of Zucotti Park in the financial district last year, become a leader in local hurricane relief efforts? Ethan Murphy, who was helping organize the food at St. Jacobis and had been cooking for the occupy movement over the past year, explained there wasn’t any kind of official decision or declaration that occupiers would now try to help with the hurricane aftermath. “This is what we do already, “ he explained: Build community, help neighbors, and create a world without the help of finance. Horst said, “We know capitalism is broken, so we have already been focused on organizing to take care of our own [community] needs.” He sees Occupy Sandy as political ideas executed on a practical level. (Emphasis mine)
How to make a difference that will last? Be incarnational.