The Word Became

A homily for Christmas, prepared for the Friday Red Door Healing Service at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

 

Merry Christmas!

Our Friday Red Door congregation is special in many ways, but what is particularly special about this day is that you are the first people to hear those words said in this space, in this season.  If you come back tomorrow for a Christmas Eve service, which you are all welcome and invited to do, you will hear Luke’s telling of the birth of Jesus, the familiar words of the story of Mary and Joseph, travelers and strangers in a foreign land who are denied a place to stay, being told there is no room for them at the inn.  Mary, “great with child” (which, I might add is the perfect phrase for being in the very last days of pregnancy!) finds herself sheltered in a stable where she gives birth to the baby Jesus, attended by cattle and shepherds and the awe of angelic heavenly host singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!  Glory be to God on High!”  The story is familiar, lived out in nativity sets from the small and intricate to the massive and life-sized versions.  But, the Gospel that we hear today is another telling of the incarnation: the in-breaking of God into our human lives in such a way that God comes to dwell with us.  The Christmas Day Gospel lesson we hear today offers us a reflection that remains with us, and abides with us.  It is a gift to be unwrapped and treasured in our hearts.

John begins his Gospel with a creation story:  “In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.”  In Greek language and philosophy, John’s use of Logos (Λόγος) conveys the perfect, ideal essence of “the Word.”  This is not just a word…it is THE WORD, the same Word which spoke all of creation into being, the Word that bears the essence of God by being One with God.  The Word contains all things, more than just the forms of speech that our human ears can hear, or our human experience can understand.  All that may sound very philosophical and abstract, but it actually reflects a deep, human truth: words are power; words convey meaning; words remain with us even when all else fades away.

Let’s make this real together.  I want you close your eyes, and listen with your heart and mind and memory.  In the silence we hold together, I want you to hear a word that remains with you, and in you.  Maybe it is a word that reminds you that you are loved; maybe it is “I do”; perhaps it is a word of forgiveness, a show of respect, or the way someone who cares for you speaks your name; maybe it is a first word spoken by a child, or a last word breathed by a loved one.  Listen for that word which is in you, and with you.

[silence]

…And the Word became flesh, and lived among us.  

In John’s telling of the entry of God into this earthly world to be with us, God’s own ideal divinity takes on the form of our human lives.  God incarnate…the second person of the Holy Trinity that we come to speak of as Jesus…is the Word that lives in God, just as the word of your own being lives in you.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

This perfect Word came into this imperfect world, and lived among us.  It wasn’t an accident that Mary knowingly entered with rejoicing into the depth of relationship with God through which she carried, birthed and nurtured the infant Jesus as a young, single woman who would be socially branded as one who didn’t yet have a husband.  It wasn’t an accident that Joseph stood by her and supported her when he had every reason to walk away.  It wasn’t an accident that people turned them away, time after time; it wasn’t an accident that there was no room for them in the few places in the foreign land where they travelled where they could rest.  It wasn’t an accident that God entered our world in the lowliest of birthing places: in a barn, on straw, surrounded by animals, with a feeding trough as a resting place.  In this scene that gets depicted time and time again, what we see in the Word becoming flesh and choosing poverty and humility as the places where God makes God’s self known.  The glory that we see isn’t a castle with the finest birthing suite and servants and midwives scrambling to provide care.  The glory is that of grace, and of truth.  The glory is the grace and truth that we see when all of those human distractions of money, wealth and possessions are stripped away.  The glory is what remains when we come to see God who loves us so much…the kind of love a parent has for their only, beloved child…that all of the messiness and pain and rejection and hurt of human life is inconsequential when compared to the true Word of divine love and grace which dwells with us.

That Word that is in you: the Word that speaks your name; the Word that tells you that you are loved, and beloved; the Word that forgives, that welcomes, that is present from the moment of our birth through our very last breath: that Word is the grace and truth of God that dwells with us.  There is no greater gift.

Merry Christmas.

Nativity scene - adoration of the shepherds

About harasprice

Social worker, professor, seminarian in The Episcopal Church, student, parent, teacher, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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One Response to The Word Became

  1. Pingback: Jan 6 – The Feast of the Epiphany | A Great Cloud of Witnesses

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