Word Made Flesh

pope francisChristmas Day – Word Made Flesh
John 1:1-18
December 25, 2013

I have a confession to make….
I didn’t mail out any Christmas cards this year.

I had the cards…
I had the stamps…
I even had the addresses all ready to go…

What I didn’t have were the words…
the words to write inside…
the words to communicate how I felt about my loved ones…
the words to share about Christmas.

If I’d only checked the Hallmark website.
It seems that they know this is a stumbling block for a lot of people…
and they want us to send cards,
so they have words…lots of them…ideas of what to write in a card when you’re stuck.

Here’s some of their ideas of what to write in a Christmas card:
“Wishing you every happy thing this year!” or
“Be good to yourself—nobody deserves it more” or
“Those mittens you sent that time are still my favorites…”
On second thought, maybe the website wouldn’t have helped me!

Words matter; they are a gift.
When we share words with another, we share some of ourselves…
…which is why they are so difficult to come by sometimes…
…and which is why it’s hard to copy someone else’s words and make them our own.

We want our words to be received as the gift we mean them to be…
As blessing, as affirmation, as thanks, as love.
That’s a lot to hope for in a phrase.
Which is why I didn’t mail out Christmas cards this year.

Over and over again through history, God tried to share some of Godself through the gift of words.
God sent words through creation…
God said “Let there be light…and there was light.”
God said “Let there be living creatures of every kind…and there was.”
But the words of creation – of stars and sun and moon and plants and trees and oceans and fish were not enough.

God sent words through the prophets…
Words like, “I know you by name, you are mine.”
Words like, “I know the plans I have for you…plans to give you hope and a future .”
Words like, “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
But the words of Isaiah and Jeremiah and Micah were not enough.

God sent words through his servants…
Through Abraham and Sarah
when they agreed to leave home and go to a place God called them.
Through the words of Mary
when she said, “Let it be according to your will.”
God even sent words through a man dressed in camel hair and eating locusts and honey.
But the words of Abraham and Sarah, Mary, and John the Baptist were not enough either.

I suppose God could have checked the Hallmark website,
but rather, in the fullness of time, God accepted that
no words would suffice to show God’s message of grace and truth.

So when words were not enough, God sent The Word (capital W).
“The Word became flesh and lived among us.”
Jesus, the Word, came to earth to reveal God,
when the words of creation, the words of the prophets, and the words of the ancestors were not enough.

Through Jesus we experience God.
When Jesus speaks we hear God.
When Jesus heals the sick,
and eats with outsiders,
and welcomes everyone without exception,
we see God.

In Hebrew, the word dabar means word.
It also means deed.
Thus, to say something is to do something.
To speak of forgiveness is to do forgiveness.
To speak of love is to do love.
To speak of justice is to do justice.
God spoke of forgiveness, love, and justice through words;
God does forgiveness, love, and justice through the Word – Jesus.

Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” is of course Pope Francis.
I doubt any of us would dispute that choice.
Pope Francis has made headlines both for the words he has spoken,
but also by his actions.
He talks about poverty…
and sneaks out of the Vatican at night to help the homeless.
He encourages compassion…
and kisses the face of a disfigured man.
He speaks of openness…
and washes the feet of a Muslim woman.
Pope Francis seems like an obvious choice for this award given each year according to the magazine to the person
‘who has most impacted our lives – for better or for worse.’

But one blogger wrote that isn’t it sad that the pope has made such headlines?
Isn’t it sad that it’s news that a Christian – any Christian let alone a church leader – would practice the words of Jesus?

The Word became flesh and lived among us…full of grace and truth.
Words matter but words were not sufficient.
The Word needed to come down to earth himself
to speak and to act.

This morning as we celebrate the Word made flesh,
may our words truly become the gift we intend.
May our words become flesh.
…and may that not be Christian “news” ever again!

Amen.

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