In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
En el principio era el Verbo, y el Verbo estaba con Dios, y el Verbo era Dios.
I said this last year on this day, but it bears repeating: in these seventeen words, John does what needs to be done on Christmas morning: he links Jesus to the beginning of time and the whole cosmos. John reminds us that Jesus is not only born in the particular moment in time where Luke puts him, but born eternally. Jesus is not just born in a particular place, but born among us everywhere.
Jesus is born from eternity to eternity, and the Word became flesh and lived among us.
My favorite interpretation of these words is from Eugene Peterson’s the Message: The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.
In other words, God—eternal and mysterious—cohabitates with us. If there’s an essential “message of Christmas,” that’s it. God lives where we live.
Last Wednesday evening, about fifteen of us went caroling. Well, we stood caroling in the labyrinth, then some of us walked down the block to the shelter on Roy Street and sang some more. (We have great plans for next year!) As we sang, line after line in carol after carol seemed to hold this essential message of Christmas, of God breaking into the world in this eternally-begotten-yet-cohabitating-right-here-with-us kind of a way.
The message is of the hopes and fears of all the years, met in thee tonight.
The message of the time when peace shall fling its ancient splendors over all the earth, and all the world give back the song which now the angels sing.
Back in the labyrinth, as we finished the last of the hot chocolate, a few of us were standing around chatting and I said that during the singing I’d been thinking that instead of preaching a Christmas sermon I’d just read off my favorite lines from each of the carols. Someone in our little circle said: “You mean, just preach ‘the Christmas message’?” Someone else, who is also a priest, said: “You could all give the Christmas message!”
Think about it…You could.
Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let every heart prepare him room.
We’ve been singing the Christmas message for generations.
Jesus does not come among us to be mediated by preachers or theologians. Jesus cohabitates with us. The Christmas message is for all of us. Jesus is our partner in transforming this messy, broken world of ours into all those things we sing about. We are in it together.
The language of the Christmas message is the language of transformation, of healing, of light in the darkness. The language of the Christmas message is the language of love.
I have been talking for several weeks about Christianity as a modern-day resistance movement, as it was when Jesus first became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. Like the world into which Jesus was born, our world is dominated by messages of fear and prejudice, isolation and division.
One of the resistance practices we learn from Jesus is to respond to the messages of the world around us in the language of love.
When the message we hear in the world is that some are more worthy than others, our Christmas message is “O hush the noise, cease your strife and hear the angels sing.”
When the message we hear in the world is “You do not belong here,” our Christmas message is “We would embrace thee, with love and awe.”
When the message we hear is “Be afraid,” we say “Jesus rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the wonders of his love.”
Before we leave here we will pray together: “Send us out to do the work you have given us to do.” The work is to go out and proclaim the Christmas message. The work we are sent out to do is the work of love, proclaiming our message in the language of love.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let every heart prepare.