1 Christmas, December 31
The prologue of John’s Gospel invites a different meditation on Christmas, one that is quiet and mysterious, and opens great possibilities for an expansive joy that reaches well beyond private or even merely human concern. God loves us each, yes, and God loves every family, language, people, and nation, and we sense this with great emotion in the coming of Christ as an infant among us. And yet St. John records nothing about the birth and infancy of Jesus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”; “All things came into being through him”; “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:1, 3, 14).
He who is with God and is God is truly and utterly with us. The flesh he assumes is our own, but more than our own, for the substance of our flesh is drawn from the earth. “The Lord God formed man [adam] from the dust of the ground [adamah]” (Gen. 2:7). Thus, when St. Paul says that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,” he shows Jesus subject to the temporal condition of humanity and the earth, and shows furthermore that he bears and feels the inward groaning for redemption shared by humans and all creations.
In a sense, everything and everyone stands under the law, instructed by a disciplinarian who points toward an eternal future. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwards while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:22-23).
Salvation is about persons, humanity, the earth, and the cosmos. “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw [all things] to myself” (John 12:32; panta and omnia, all things, are well attested and theologically justified). Jesus is both the grain that falls into the earth and the bodily fruit erupting from the dust of the ground (John 12:24, 32). All things die in his death, and all things rise to his new life. We know this now, and know it truly, but know it as a cry, as groaning, as emptiness. Saying “Abba, Father,” we commit to working out our salvation in fear and trembling. We commit ourselves to persons, communities, the world, the earth, and the cosmos, and we engage in the long road toward peace and justice.
Until God is all in all, we will cry and groan, but we will also feel and know that the life of Christ is in the wounds we feel. He is the Spirit who helps us to prayer and to work. In that sense, we have great joy, joy in our lives, joy among people of good will, and the joy of all creation.
The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. He heals the broken hearted and binds up wounds. He lifts up the lowly, and scatters the proud. He gathers his little one in peace and security. He numbers the stars and graces them with names. He forms the clouds and makes the rain. He covers the mountains with grass and green plants. He feeds the flocks and herds, and the ravens when they cry. He makes snow like wool and frost like ash. He scatters hail like bread crumbs. He makes cold and heat and wind and the waters that flow. His Word runs swiftly to save all things (Ps. 147).
Look It Up
Read Eucharistic Prayer D, BCP, p. 373.
Think About It
Give voice to every creature under heaven.