December 25

The majestic prologue of the Gospel of John presents a very different account of the incarnation of Jesus Christ than the story from Luke that we usually hear on Christmas Eve. Last night, we heard about angels and shepherds. We heard about the very earthy birth of Jesus in humble circumstances. Mary and Joseph are there. It is the Christmas we picture. 

Today’s assigned gospel reading gives us the long view. The prologue certainly praises the enfleshment of Jesus: “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 1:14). But the emphasis here is on meaning, breadth, and grandeur.

About the same time as the New Testament was written, Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, taught, “there is one God, who has manifested himself by Jesus Christ his Son, who is his eternal Word, not proceeding forth from silence.” It’s a beautiful way to speak of our Lord Jesus: he is the word, the very voice of the triune God.

Throughout this Advent, you have savored a different word each day. It’s a good discipline, and perhaps you will savor God’s word in the scriptures this way in the days, months, and years to come. Advent, after all, is not just a time to prepare for Christmas but a season to reorient our whole lives.

I love a cute pageant as much as the next person, but this day is about much more than that. Christmas reminds us that our God is not distant and remote. God in Jesus Christ was born into our world to be in solidarity with us, to show us perfect love. On Christmas Day, we praise God for the birth of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word.