Lectionary reading for 12/25: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4, 5-12; John 1:1-14
Selected passage for reflection: John 1:1-14
John 1:1-14, The Message
The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
In the beginning. John begins his version of the gospel, the good news of Jesus, with a reminder of God's intention for humanity at the dawn of creation. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, the land and the sea, the plants and trees, the animals that crawl and the birds that fly. God looked at each of the creations and blessed them. It was good. Then God created the first humans in the image of God, and it was very good. God’s plan from the beginning was to be with the people.
In the beginning was the Word. John writes out for us how the Word was present at creation and how, at Christmas, we remember that the “Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” Your neighborhood. My neighborhood. The incarnation is in the neighborhood. How often do we walk through our neighborhoods and miss the presence of Christ? John tells us that we often overlook the presence of Christ in our lives. We fail to notice the light.
Ruth Haley Barton says that we are “starved for quiet, to hear the sound of sheer silence that is the presence of God himself.” When Jesus moved into the neighborhood, it was a normal night. Most people didn’t even notice that anything had changed. They went on with their busy day- folding laundry, reading to children, wrapping up work emails. It took a host of angels appearing to the shepherds for them to notice that the Savior had come. The Magi had to follow a wild star for years just to see Jesus. When the Word came to dwell among us, most people missed his arrival. The activity of daily life obscured the presence of God.
Christmas is often clouded by long lists, never-ending Mariah Carey remixes, and unrealistic expectations. The arrival of Jesus is too easy to overlook. We have to be intentional about making space for us to notice the presence of Christ in our lives, and we have to continue to do this well past the Christmas season. God is longing for us to experience the “very good” plan he had at creation- the plan to be with us. Imagine that Mariah is God singing over us, as if God is saying, “All I want for Christmas is… you.”
In the midst of whatever you have planned for Christmas Day, take some time to give thanks for creation, for the revelation of God through all of the created world. Go for a walk in silence. Listen to the busy silence of the world around you. What do you notice about your neighborhood? Where do you see Christ’s presence today? What is the still, small voice of God saying to you?
God of light, the Word made flesh, may we pause to be still, to breathe and to notice your presence in our midst on this Christmas Day and every day to come.
About the Author
Mary Peterson is an ordained Covenant pastor serving at First Covenant Church of Omaha, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband, Eric and their two kids, Luke and Kate. Mary loves coffee, books, Jesus and the beach.