A lesson given at Colonial Church as a part of the annual “Lessons and Carols” service. Shared on December 20, 2020. You can watch the service below or directly on YouTube.
In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God.
The Word was present to God from the beginning. Through the Word all things came into beingand apart from the Word nothing came into being that has come into being.
In the Word was life, and that life was humanity’s light—a Light that shines in the darkness, a Light that the darkness has never overtaken.
Then came one named John, sent as an envoy from God, who came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through this testimony everyone might believe. He himself wasn’t the Light; he only came to testify about the Light—the true Light that illumines all humankind.
The Word was coming into the world—was in the world—and though the world was made through the Word, the world didn’t recognize it.
Though the Word came to its own realm, the Word’s own people didn’t accept it. Yet any who did accept the Word, who believed in that Name, were empowered to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor urge of flesh nor human will—but born of God.
And the Word became flesh and stayed for a little while among us; we saw the Word’s glory—The favor and position a parent gives an only child—filled with grace, filled with truth.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” said Juliet (as penned by the great bard).
The Bible is often called “The Word of God.” Doing so sometimes obscures that its power is discovered not in its name but in its reference.
“In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD was God.”
The Word is not a name, nor is it text…as if text could capture it! The Word of Life is being, is essence…it is embodiment.
The Word, who was from the beginning, is the one who was not born of power or of patriarchy, but of Spirit.
The Word, who is the light of life, that we discover in the Word who became and becomes flesh—human—just like one of us.
The Word, who stays with us for a while.
The Word, for whom we long. The light of which we are in need and of whom we await…is Jesus.
And this Word, by any other name, is still the light and bringer of life.
So we, together with the Shakespearean lad Romeo, likewise take up new names and proclaim: “Call me but love and I will new be baptized.”
Might we too be known not by our names but by the sweet light of our love, which the Word animates.
Let us pray together.
Oh Word of light and life, we your faithful and faithful-intending have come.
We come longing for the long-expected one.
We have heard the angels and mountains proclaim, we have sung of glory, we have beheld the stable.
And now, might our lives likewise proclaim a joy for all of the world, a word of life that is for all of the people.
Might we be evidence of the wonders of your great love, the wonders of your love.
Come, oh Word of light and life, and make bright with joy our hearts and homes and world.