Christmas Day—Year C; Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12); John 1:1-14
Last night was full of activity—angels swooping at 4:00 o’clock and confident little shepherds making their way to Bethlehem, incense rising as the thurible swung late in the night, choir and organ alike lifting their voices to heaven. It’s the kind of swirl that always surrounds a birth. This room was all abuzz, giddy in our joy. And now, the morning light brings us to the morning after, and we try to make sense of it all. Today, is the first day in this new life, and the mystery of it all only deepens.
Last night, Luke told the story of this amazing birth, but today, John takes over the story, and in his magnificent Prologue, begins to unpack the mystery beyond mysteries.
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.
—that great shorthand for God’s immeasurable desire to communicate God’s Self. First, in the very act of creation itself. This beautiful, glorious, wondrous, imperfect, finite, constricted world has divine fingerprints all over it. God spoke, and creation was born. Divinity wasn’t content to stay self-contained; divinity had to seek a bigger canvass on which to cast color and texture and life and play. Life and light, always dancing, always flowing from the creative Word. The Word would try all manner of ways to speak. The Law would speak of right relationship, the Word incarnate in covenant full of light and life and possibility. The prophets would speak in the darker times, speak the Word that would pierce our soul and reveal how we had fallen short, and with the fierceness of a hurt lover, the Word would call us back to the image of God that had been imprinted on our being. But sometimes, speaking can only get you so far. You’ve been there. Some exchange when the words only seem to take you farther from the one to whom you yearn to draw close; words that land you in tangle. Sometimes, words simply fail.
And into that moment, into that moment when God and humanity seemed to have a failure to communicate, into that moment, God took a flying leap of faith…
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.
The Word became flesh, “pitched the divine tent in our very flesh”
says the greek, an all-in commitment to live among us, to journey wherever we would journey, to suffer whatever we would suffer, to delight in our deepest joys, to drink the dregs of our human existence, every last drop, even unto our death, even unto our rising to life again, communicating God’s self to us every step of the way. In this all-in commitment to live among us, that tragic gap that exists in all communication is forever closed because God knows our lives from the inside-out. And in this Word-made-flesh, God consecrates our humanity, forever marks it as holy. Truth be told, it was always so—when God pulled us up from the dust and breathed divine life into our being, we were marked as holy, but sometimes, we need an outward and visible sign to remind us of an inward and spiritual grace. This Word-made-flesh is that outward sign that reminds us of the grace and truth and beauty that exists in each and every exquisite human being. This Word-made-flesh reminds us that God has communicated God’s self to us without restraint, fully, intimately, body-to-body, flesh-to-flesh, two-become-one, divinity and humanity, forever intertwined and bound to one another, the union for which our souls have yearned accomplished in this gracious leap of faith.
And in this act, we now become communicators of God’s very self. Our flesh, our blood, now speak of God’s life and God’s love. And God now has a million, zillion different ways to express it. How beautiful is that?! No longer are we limited by the limitations of our words. Our lives, our actions, our deeds, our silence, our presence, our being can communicate what our words cannot. We are one—with God, with one another, with all of creation, with ourselves. The Word present at the beginning runs through existence all the way to eternity. We are one. We always have been. We always will be. This is our birthright. This is our inheritance. This is our beginning and our end. This is our Alpha and Omega. This is the glory that shines out in the morning after the swirl of last night. This is the glory that can only be revealed in the quiet of this morning. Simple words can’t convey something so full of grace and truth; it takes the Word-made-flesh to do that. Amen.
The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
December 25, 2013