“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.” (John 1:1-4)
“What is John talking about?” “What is the good news?”
Genesis tells us God’s creation story. “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that it was Good. Then God said, “Let there be life”; and there was life. And God saw everything that he made, and indeed, it was very Good.” (Gen. 1)
Is it John telling us today? Yes, it is. But, actually it’s not actually. He is not just saying about how God created the world, and what happened there, and then, in the beginning. But, John is saying about a mystery hidden from us, and is saying about what we have missed in God’s creation story, and what really happened in the very beginning, there, and then.
Johns is telling us a secret, a mystery, that was the Word. “In the very beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Yes, he says, it was God’s Word, it was the world-forming Speech.”
“Yes, it was the Word, the source of Life, and the Life itself. And the Life brought Light to people, and the Life was the Light of all. The Life-Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.” John is telling us not just the story of God’s creation “again.” But, he is telling us the hidden but now revealed story of God’s Word, the world-forming Speech which did in the very beginning, there, and then.
He, however, is telling us more. John does not stop there. “Not enough. You need more, you should know more than that.” The more secret, more mystery, more marvelous and wonderful story. A new story. The second Act of God’s creation. A new creation story of God’s world-forming speech. That is, a story of the world-re-creating Speech, a story of the world-making new and fresh Speech.
It is a story of “Creation from Chaos,” a story of “Life from Death,” a story of “Joy from Sorrow,” a story of “Hope from Despair,” a story of “Peace from Hate.” The world-forming Word. The Life-Light. It was in the very beginning with God. It was God. The Word, however, not only was there, and then, in the beginning, but also is here, and now, in this new beginning with us, becoming one of us, a Child, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger, surrounded by his mom and dad, and sheep, ox, and donkey, and shepherds, and three kings, and the angels. And, yes, we know, this Child will be surrounded by the sinners, the poor, the sick, the lame, the blind, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the widow, the orphan, the beggars, the slaves, the fishermen, the farmers, the slaves, the oppressed, the Gentiles, and all the people of languages and colors. To us and to the World which ruined, damaged, broken, bruised, and pale and hurt and dark, the Word-Life-Light is given, becoming one of us, a Child, a vulnerable being in a manger, but full of grace and truth and love. Not just visiting us, but moving into us, our neighborhood, and becoming one of our neighbors and living in the midst of us.
This is the story, this is the good news which today’s gospel reading is telling us. This is why we are here today. This is what Christmas is all about. This is why we are gathering in the name of the Word, and praying in the name of the Word. . . . . We are creatures of the Word, and we are now into the story of God’s world-forming and world-re-creating speech.
A Child is born.
But, the Child comes not to create the world “again,” But, to “complete” God’s creation work in us, among us. Because God was Good, and God is Good. Because God’s creation was Good, and it should be Good. And, He is re-newing, re-creating, re-breathing-in us and the whole universe in His Word, and through His Word.
A Child is born to us.
And, we are called to become God’s messenger. The book of Isaiah, the first reading for today, says, “How wonderful it is to see a messenger coming across the mountains, brining good news, the news of peace! He announces victory and says to the nations of the world, “Your God is King!” (Isaiah 52:7) Yes, we are God’s messenger coming across the mountains of suffering, the hills of pain, the valley of despair, the sea of sorrow, and the river of grief and agony, but brining good news of peace, of justice, of forgiveness, and of salvation. We announce God’s victory, and proclaim to the nations of the world that, “Look at the Bethlehem! To you, to us, a Child is born. To us, our God comes. Our God is King, Our God reigns!”
The Psalm says today, “Sing a new song to the Lord; he has done wonderful things for us! By his own power and holy strength he has won the victory. In crying from a manger in Bethlehem, the Lord announced his victory; he made his saving power known to the nations. God kept his promise to the people of Israel with loyalty and constant love for them. Sing for joy to the Lord, all the earth; praise him with songs and shouts of joy! . . . sing together with joy before the Lord lying in a manger, because he comes to rule the earth. He will rule the peoples of the world with justice and fairness.” (Psalm 98) We are God’s choir to sing a New Song. A New Song of New Life, New Creation. A New Song of New Beginning.
To us, a Child is born.
The Word comes into history, and lives among us so that we can see, hear, touch, smell, and even drink and eat through the liturgy, praying, singing, and loving, serving and caring our neighbours.
To us, a Child is born.
God’s Word is not a word, not a speech to be scattered into the air without even echo, but to be told, acted, danced, and sung on the stage by God’s story-tellers, actors, dancers, and singers. In God’s theatre, in God’s stage, is there no audience. We all are story-tellers, all actors, all dancers, and all singers.
Let us stand at the center of the universe, and sing, proclaim, and rejoice at this good news. “To us, a Child is born. To us, the Word is given.” Let us give thanks for the Word whom God sent to us. Let us, in the name of the Word, pray to God for us, for our neighbors, and for our world, that we, and whole creation, be made new and fresh and good.
I invite you now, this Christmas morning, to pray together to God, especially with a prayer of Walter Brueggemann, Old Testament scholar and priest. (“Your World-Forming Speech,” from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann)
Let us pray,
Light from light
Creation from chaos
Life from death
Joy from sorrow
Hope from despair
Peace from hate
All your gifts, all your love, all your power,
All from your word, fresh from your word,
all gifts of your speech.
We give thanks for your world-forming speech.
Thanks as well for our speech back to you,
the speech of mothers and fathers
who dare to speak
in faith and unfaith
in trust and in distrust
in grateful memory and in high hurt.
We cherish this speech as we trust yours.
Listen this day for the groans and yearnings of your world,
listen to our own songs of joy and our own drudges of death,
and in the midst of our stammering,
speak your clear word of life
in the name of your word come flesh.