Merry Christmas!

On Friday night and Saturday, we celebrated Christmas with Luke’s version of the birth of Jesus. Those here on a Sunday two days after Christmas Eve almost by definition constitute a well-seasoned, biblically literate crowd and so most know what follows. And even if you aren’t biblically literate, you always get a “bye” at Christmas in terms of Biblical knowledge. Thus most of us know that Luke has the story of Mary with child and Joseph traveling to a stable and a manger, and the shepherds who are visited by an angel and come to see the Christ child. The Gospel Matthew has the wisemen or magi come to visit. Mark, of course, doesn’t have a birth story, but instead starts Jesus’ story with his ministry from the time of his baptism with John the Baptist. And for this Sunday we have the beginning of John’s Gospel. One could call it a very unusual birth narrative- the birth of the λογος- the Word, the Idea, the Concept, or the thought, the principle, the speech—you get the idea.

The Gospel of John is the written foundation of what some have termed the Cosmic Christ. Christ in this sense is recognized as beyond time. The language, “in the beginning” is no accident. This harkens to Genesis. In fact, the Hebrew for the book of Genesis is בראשית (The Hebrew name for any book of the Hebrew Bible consists of the first few words of the text of that book.) Thus, this re-iteration of “in the beginning” echoes extensively.

I should say that as much as we have John’s Gospel written in Greek, this concept of language preceding everything else is in fact a very Jewish thought. There is even a concept in Jewish thought that the Torah proceeds God, such that God is also ruled by the Torah. This is an interesting concept if we don’t hold too tightly to Paul’s parsing of “before and after the law”, or if we instead picture the law to mean the life giving Torah that it was intended to be.

This Sunday feels like the lessons lose all the sentimentality of Christmas, but instead, “God with us” in this sense is much clearer: that Jesus, the Word, the concept, the λογος and therefore salvation, is available for all. This verbiage, rather than giving the human particulars, instead captures theology, the thought behind who Jesus is. You could imagine this as the birth of how we relate to God because of Jesus. The Gospel of John claims that those who receive Jesus, are then given “power to become children of God who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” This relationship between God and followers of Jesus does not necessitate being born into it, but involves claiming God and being claimed by God, claiming Christ, and being claimed by Christ. We are adopted in this manner, and with this adoption, we receive grace upon grace.

We are adopted into a faith that is not limited to reading of Torah, not limited to nativity scenes, not limited period. We receive grace upon grace as the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it, and it is the light that leads to all life. Light leads to life, leads to love. There is an expansion in this grace that we have been adopted into.
And with this adoption by grace, we become ourselves those in whom the λογος, the word of God is to be born – indeed is born in all things! The great medieval mystic Meister Eckhart knew this. He once wrote:
Expands His Being

All beings 
are words of God,

His music, His 

Sacred books we are, for the infinite camps in our souls.

Every act reveals God and expands His being.

I know that may be hard

to comprehend.

All creatures are doing their best

to help God in His birth

of Himself.

Enough talk for the night.
He is laboring in me;

I need to be silent

for a while,

worlds are forming

in my heart.

~Meister Eckhart, trans. Daniel Ladinsky

The same Eckhart wrote in another place: “we are all mothers of God … for God is always in need of being born.”

And so again I say Merry Christmas! This Christmas, and throughout the year, let us give birth to God in our lives, our words, our actions. And at one and the same time, may God, in time, gather all the world into his saving Word, the λογος. -Sarah Colvin

Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
John 1:1-18
Psalm 147:13-21