The word became flesh

The Revd Susannah Reide

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory

Recently in Oxford, I have noticed a change in phraseology. When arranging a meeting, people often ask, “Will it be online, or in the flesh?” We have been through so many changes in the past year, which undermine our basic assumptions. In the recent past, if I arranged a meeting then I generally expected to be in a room or a cafe, with people. But now these assumptions are undermined, and my meetings now seem to be mostly online, or walking around outside.

Our college carol service was conveniently scheduled for Wednesday 2nd December, the day that the most recent lockdown was due to end. This gave rise to plenty of discussion, and we finally decided that we should return from our online services, to have an “in the flesh” carol service. This was socially distanced and contrary to my normal urge to pack the chapel to the gills. But people were very pleased to be back together again, even though only the choir was allowed to sing.

There is something very important about being physically together and it is a great sadness to me that the necessary Covid restrictions are limiting the numbers of people that we can welcome to St Mary’s this Christmas. I am very pleased that we are able to gather (socially distanced!) in Radcliffe Square on Christmas Eve, to sing carols with the City of Oxford Silver Band. For all the wonders of technology and online meetings, in the end we are in the flesh and we need to be together in the flesh.

Being in the flesh is a desirable state, one that God desired so much that the Divine became human, and shared our flesh, so that we in turn may share in the Divine life.