In the name of God: the Source, the Word, and the Wisdom. Amen.
I once heard a biblical scholar describe the Gospel of John as the most “Anglican” of the Gospels. She had a lot of reasons why she said this – in fact, she’d turned the premise into an hour-long lecture. Don’t worry, I won’t be doing that this morning.
But the main thing I remember from her lecture was about this – the beginning of the Gospel according to John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Part of her reasoning behind her premise was that we, Christians of the Anglican variety, are particularly among the churches, nourished by words. And, as an addendum on that reality, she said, we are particularly nourished by the Word.
A couple of months ago, I told you about a text exchange I had with my oldest nephew. I focused on the later part of the text then, but the way it all got started was, he asked me about our patterns of reading the Bible in the Episcopal Church. Because the truth is, we read a lot of the Bible. Each Sunday, and then on special days like today, we have fully four readings from scripture in our liturgy. And that’s to say nothing of the countless allusions to scripture and quotations from scripture that exist in the rest of our liturgies and in our prayers.
The words of the Bible are of unimaginable importance to those of us who are Christians of the Anglican variety. So it’s no surprise that we take words seriously. As a tradition, we are particularly concerned with poetry in our words. We recognize that words are never just scribbles on a page – they have the power to evoke feelings, and at their best, even actions.
So it’s only natural that on today – one of the most significant feasts of Christian observance – we should turn once again to that most Anglican gospel – the one where we hear the importance of the Word. Last night was for angels and shepherds and mangers, but today is for the Word.
On this day that focuses so much on “things” it’s important to take a step back and to remember the source of all things. On this day that encourages us to see the stuff of this world as gifts to be desired, it’s important to take a step back and to remember the gifts we have from God. The Word was the first gift of God. At the beginning, our creation stories tell us how God speaks creation into being. God spoke all things into being – the sun, moon, and stars; the plants, animals, fish, and birds; even the fields, the seas, and the skies. And now, at the birth of Jesus, God speaks even salvation into existence.
Words have more power than we can imagine. And The Word takes it even beyond our imagining.
So just consider the power of words undergirded by the Word. How much more could we make Christmas real in the world around us if we filled our words with the Word of God. How much more could we make Christ real in the world around us if we filled our words with the Spirit of Christ.
Words don’t have to be just scribbles on a page or sounds from a mouth. Words, spoken in love, with the power of Christ, can move people. They can move them in their hearts and minds, but also in their hands and feet.
The real gift of Christmas is the example of bringing God into the world in flesh. That’s our task. That’s our responsibility. But most importantly, that’s our gift. We have the power to bring God into the world in flesh. And yes, in words.
Take that power this morning. Hold it tightly and share it freely. Merry Christmas. Amen.