Finding the Lessons
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You will want to scroll down to find the bible study for the lessons closest to the upcoming Sunday.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Christmas Day B, December 25, 2014
Lectionary Blogging, John 1:1-18, John Petty, Progressive Involvement, 2010.
In this most gentle dawn, O good and most gracious God, we have hastened to behold the wonder that has taken place, for the goodness and loving kindness of our Savior has appeared. Give us words inspired enough to make known the mercy that has touched our lives, deeds loving enough to bear witness to the treasure you have bestowed, and hearts simple enough to ponder the mystery of your gracious and abiding love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, your Son who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year B, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
Some Thoughts on John 1:1-18
Christmas morning this year falls on a Sunday. The brave and faithful will sneak out of their homes before gifts, some with children in hand, to hear the story of how God became man.
I like how Raymond E. Brown approaches this text offering a vision that if John is the most beautiful of New Testament texts then the prologue must assuredly be the pearl within the Gospel. This is the reading for Christmas day.
Brown is clear...there is first the relationship between the Word that is with God (vs 1-2). The opening verses of this Christ hymn used to frame an entrance into the Johannine Gospel is brief and it is completely, or I should say “seemingly”, uninterested in a metaphysical conversation about the nature of God. It is however very clear that Salvation history begins with the relationship between God, revealed through the living Word, and Man. Quite simply God reveals God's-self to us in the work of creation – and by John’s usage here; creation also reveals something about the salvation of man as well. Creation is by its very nature a revealing act. (John, vol. 1, 23, 24)
Secondly we have in the prologue the relationship between the Word and Creation. “All creation bears the stamp of God’s Word,” Brown writes. (Brown, 25) Here we see the author of John reflecting and re-imagining the opening lines of Genesis. We can see that what is clearly of importance is that creation itself existed primarily for the glory of God and the revelation of who God is. The problem is that the creation is broken; it does not fulfill its purpose as God intended. It is not a sustainable creation. Instead it is one where there is a constant battle to supplant the power and revelation of God. We can return to the creation story in Genesis to see this played out as an eternal truth, certainly this seems on John's mind. However, it is not really that hard or difficult to see and imagine as we read the paper or watch television how humanity has created a non-sustainable kingdom for ourselves, and that we wrestle for power with God placing our needs above creations explicit purpose to glorify God.
We might even reflect on how quickly all of the Christmas season's preparations are quickly consumed! How many minutes did it take?
The third portion of our Gospel selection is the portion where we are re-introduced to John the Baptist. I say reintroduced, because we spend several Sunday’s reading passages from Mark and John recently that dealt with him and his ministry. Yet here we get a slightly different attempt to speak about how John responded to the living Word, the Light in the world. How he was clearly not the one everybody was looking for, but how he dutifully gave witness to the revelation of God. Moreover, that John the Baptist called everyone to a time of preparation and repentance for the light itself, the living Word was entering the world.
We come to the final and fourth portion of our reading and we return to the relationship between God and humanity; specifically in how the community of God (God’s people) respond to the living Word. God is dwelling with his people. He has made a “tent”, he is incarnated, and he is present within the community. (Brown, 35) The images here in this last section return not to Genesis but play on our remembrances of the Exodus and the idea that God came and dwelt among the people as they made their way in the wilderness. I am reminded of Habakuk who mans his station in order to have a vision of God, or Naham who retells the story of how God dwelled with Abraham, and now dwells in the Temple. God has returned over and over again to be with his people. Now in the story of Mary we discover that God has come not only to dwell with his people, but to dwell as a person.
Here is an expressed intimacy between God and people. God is not simply outside, having wound the clock tight and is now letting it run. On the contrary just as God was intimately involved with creation and the people of Israel, God also is involved in the new community post resurrection. God has come and is dwelling with the people in wisdom and in truth. God in the living Word is making community within God’s tent and is revealing himself and the purpose of creation to all those who would call him by name: Jesus.
I have found over the years that the Christmas morning service is perhaps one of the most intimate of services in the christian year. Holy, and present is the living Word. I hope you as you preach and offer a vision of Sunday worship post our evening celebrations of God incarnate remind people of the incredibly intimate God we worship and how the God news of God dwelling with us is truly Good News. News that all creation is groaning to comprehend and embrace. As Christians and as Episcopalians gathered together in the early morning hours of Christmas day, it is a message of comfort and joy that draws us closer to God and closer to one another.