We make a shift in our readings. Matthew has ended. We begin John, and encounter a passage that many of us have not heard since our Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols Service. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John is mysterious. And today’s words introduce a central theme of this Gospel: that the divine Savior has come into the world, has been rejected by many, but has given life to those who know him.
It is so different from the other gospels, one which jumps in to Jesus’ life and ministry, and the other two that dwell on “He was born. He grew up.” This one is esoteric and philosophical. It is strange and difficult.
That difficulty is compounded when one realized “Word” is actually only the first level of understanding of the Greek word it comes from. Logos means “divine reason and order.” Reason was with God. The Reason was God.
One of the reason’s I love the Presbyterian Church is that we do not ask worshippers to check their brains at the door. The mind is just as important as the heart. We invite people into a life of reason and understanding, and to do that is to invite them into a life of Christ. We believe that all that makes sense with God we see in Christ. It is the coming together of the old and new orders. God is seen in a different way – not a God who destroys armies, but one who sows seeds of love in community.
It is ironic that John talks very plainly about the reasoning and understanding of God, but that we encounter such strange and difficult words. It turns out God’s rationality is complex and elusive! There is depth and beauty to it – that which a lifetime of study cannot solve.
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us,…full of grace and truth.” This is what I remember of Lessons and Carols Services – this reading. For me it not only summarizes the whole nativity, it also summarizes the whole point. Not that Reason was God or that Reason was Light, but that God became flesh, and dwelt among us.
This bizarre twist to the story is the whole reason we are here.
I used to think people were weird for only showing up at Christmas and Easter. But now I think Christmas, especially, is popular is because people know, perhaps just on a sub-conscious level, that the event of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us is something so mysterious and deep that they must come to figure it out – or better yet, they come to experience it once again…for the first time.
May the depth of God overwhelm you today with goodness and awe.