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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota

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Lectionary Reflection

First Sunday After Christmas, All Years Episcopal Standard and Revised Common Lectionary Sermon on the Gospel

John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

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. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.

Sermon on John 1:1-18 by Virginia McBride

In the beginning was the Word.

Was it a whispered word? A sung word? Or was it a joyfully shouted word?

A word to make God dance with happiness at what was being created.

A shouted word.

Yes, I like that.

The author Madeleine L'Engle writes: "the amazing thing is that at the beginning there was darkness, formless and empty... and then the Word shouting for joy, and here we are."

It is a birth. The birth of everything. Not the birth in Bethlehem we celebrated that birth just a week ago. But it is a birth. The Word shouted into being. The word heard by all creation long before it was read by anyone.

What if we reinterpret the tense of today's Gospel and say In the beginning is God and the word is with God and the word is God. All things come into being through him and without him not one thing is. Not one thing is.

Again Maadeleine L'Engle says, "In that first epiphany when matter was formless and space was empty, God created. How marvelous that there is, rather than there is not. There is, and we are part of that is-ness."

Looking again at John, "...and without him not one thing came into being. The life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it."

The darkest place I have ever been was in a deep cave on a guided tour and the lights were purposefully turned off. It was a complete darkness that is hard to describe. One could almost feel the darkness. It was intense. There was nothing there. My eyes could not become accustomed to it. Then one match was lit, and we all gasped or let out a sigh of relief that we could see again.

"In the beginning," it says in Genesis, "dankness was upon the face of the deep." An inky blackness a total darkness and God said, "Let there be light."

God shouted Light and saw that it was good.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

When I was a young teenager at St. James in Hibbing, I loved to hear the Gospel of John read by Father Taylor. I was in the choir sitting right up front. When he came to "And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us", he turned toward the altar and genuflected. I was in awe and wonderment. For years whenever this Gospel was read, I could hear Father Taylor's voice.

We pray in the Collect "pour upon us the new light of your incarnate Word." Light and word again. The incarnate word means Christ the Word is both God and man.

God and man. Simple to say.

More difficult to understand or explain. Man and God. Maybe one of those concepts it's better just to believe. The new light. It is different from the first list, the "in the beginning" light. Or is it the same light shouted by God in the beginning and again at the birth in Bethlehem?

John tells us that in Jesus we are met by that same Word through whom was brought into being all that is, and in whom is life. The primal light by which we live. The word is said to be pre-existent in that the word of creation had an existence before creation itself, as did God.

Isaiah says "I will not rest until Jerusalem's vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch."

Dawn and a burning torch. Two more sources of light.

When you see the sun rise, does it feel as if the creator is shouting with joy? ...shouting a new day into being? Which is why upon awakening I say, "this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."

...or when at a campfire, do you realize you are feeling the heat of the sun because the sun caused the tree to grow, and when the tree died and is now burning, it is releasing the stored up energy of the sun as it gives out its heat? So we can enjoy the fire and say "thank you God for the sun."

That fire, too, is shouting with joy as it crackles and leaps. Shouting God's shout of creation. For without God's word not one thing came into being. The life that is the light of all people. The light that the darkness cannot overcome.

It is good that we read these lessons now in the darkest time of our year, when we are yearning for light both visual aqnd spiritual.

Celebrate that light Celebrate that word Celebrate the glorious shout which brought it all into being

... in the beginning

Copyright Statement

To Reflections on other Standard (Episcopal) and Revised Common Lectionary Readings All Years, First Sunday After Christmas:

Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture) Isaiah 61:10-62:3
no reflection available
Psalm 147 or 147:13-21

New Testament Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7

Gospel John 1:1-18

Virginia McBride was a member of the Vestry and Total Ministry Team of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Virginia, MN. when she delivered this sermon on Dec 31, 2006. She and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to Virginia McBride orany MEESC member, or mail them to:

MEESC c/o C. Morello 4451 Lakeside Drive Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the website.

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