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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Today’s Reading | John 1:10–14

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave 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. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (NRSV)

One of the most moving liturgical moments of my prior ministry was the conclusion of Christmas Eve worship. In a sanctuary lit solely by flickering candlelight, I would proclaim the profound promise of the incarnation: “The Word has become flesh and dwelt among us.” That scene comes to mind every time I return to these verses from John’s Gospel.

Two of the words call for brief interpretation. In the biblical Greek, flesh expresses the whole person. The Word became our living Lord, human in all the ways we are short of sin. The glory of our Lord shines forth in a shadowy world that God now knows all too well.

The second word is lived (in the NRSV translation) or dwelt or made his dwelling. The literal meaning of the biblical word is “to pitch his tent.” We are reminded of the tent of meeting in which our Hebrew forebearers experienced a special sense of God’s presence. Those of us who strive to follow Jesus trust this closeness through our relationship with the One who entered our lives so fully, tenting, dwelling with us.

One of my favorite extended poems for this Advent/Christmas season is W.H. Auden’s Christmas oratorio “For the Time Being.” In the concluding words of the narrator, he speaks for us all:

Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.

Wondrous God, I give you heartfelt thanks that you did not stay distant but entered our world, took on our flesh, sharing fully all the joys and struggles of humanity. Help me see you in my neighbor, in creation, through Christ, the Word made flesh. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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