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In the flesh

One of the more unfortunate effects of the pandemic has been that people no longer enjoy easy physical access to the doctor. We can understand why but it is still a situation that most would prefer to change. For one thing is to order your shopping online, quite another is to have your illness diagnosed online or by telephone.


Being present in person means being present physically and mentally (or spiritually). No-one is completely present unless the body is involved. The body is the external face of our inner, spiritual selves. By it we express ourselves more fully and more richly. Likewise, we in turn receive the fuller and richer expression of the other. Body language is everything, even in business relationships.


On the other hand, it’s not enough just to be physically present. We need to be present to, with and for the other. A person is not present in a room the same way a chair or table is there. A person is a living, spiritual and bodily presence. It is this completeness of presence which makes possible a much deeper engagement with another person. Certainly, you can love someone from a distance or come to know something about them from a TV interview or radio programme. Or you can make connections with others through social media. But all of these things, if they are to flourish, seek something much more. They seek an actual meeting with the other in person, in the flesh.


We humans need touch. We need to see the eyes of the other alive before us and not just on a screen. If someone claimed to love me but never turned up to embrace me or to see the “live me”, then I would naturally question whether that love was ever real. In the end, “virtual” love and “virtual” presence don’t cut the mustard. We are not “virtual” human beings. We are real human beings with flesh and blood, senses, emotions, a breath of life and a living soul. That’s how God in his wisdom made us.


And he himself did not love or redeem us by “livestream” or by “Instagram.” He assumed a body and became present to, with and for us in that flesh. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us” (John 1:14). In return, he wants us to be with him in the flesh, both now and for evermore.


(First published in the 16th November 2022 edition of the Largs and Millport Weekly News)