12/25/2010 -- Anne-Marie Jeffery -- Christmas Day

posted Jan 4, 2011, 5:28 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Jan 4, 2011, 5:29 PM by Terry Brady ]

The Gift of the Story

John 1:1-14


Merry Christmas!  How many people have opened at least one gift so far?  Did you like it?  Will you put in on a shelf or use it every day?  Last Christmas, I received a beautiful box of flavored green tea. I liked it, but being mostly a coffee drinker, I put it in my kitchen cupboard and forgot about it. About 4 or so weeks ago when it turned cold and I found myself longing for some hot tea and found the tea bags and decided to try them out. They were wonderful. Each tea bag was a silk infuser with a little leaf at the top of the bag.  It was a beautiful experience to steep the tea in these beautiful bags and the taste was delicate.  I wondered why I had waited so long to use them. 


The tea bags that had been neglected came to mind as I turned to this morning gospel from John with its poetic beginning - In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  It is not the most popular Christmas reading. You might have listened to the gospel this morning and thought - what happened to the Christmas story? Isn’t it Christmas Day?  Well this is one of the readings for Christmas day. We get three options for Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  The first 2 options are very similar – different sections of the same reading from Luke which is what we think of the traditional Christmas story and then we have this one from John.  We could have had one of the first two today, but like many preachers after preaching on Luke for Christmas Eve, I like to have something different for Christmas Day.


It occurred to me that our reading from John is the Christmas story told a different way. What we think of as the traditional Christmas story from the gospel of Luke and the opening to the gospel of John are both about Jesus being made flesh and coming on earth although the reading from   John doesn’t mention birth i.e. made flesh,  until near the end.  You can see why one is more popular than the other.  The version from Luke is a story about a family travelling to Bethlehem.  When they got there was no accommodation left anywhere in the town, so they ended up camping out in the stables. There Mary gave birth to a baby boy. Angels showed up and shepherd came to see this child – the Savior of the world.  In comparison, John is more abstract. It begins with a description of the Word, Jesus, who is present in the beginning and with God and of God, who brings the light for all people.


While I love the words of the passage from John, I have a tendency to think that it doesn’t have enough pageantry for our Christmas celebration. Imagine what the pageant would be like if all we had to work with was the reading from John. And yet I think I am missing something if I don’t spend some time with this passage – kind of like that wonderful gift of tea that sat in my cupboard for almost a year. I wondered if we could find a way to open the gift of this passage and spend a little time with it.


After all we hear the other story so often and re-told in so many ways.  So I invite you to listen to a parapharase[1] of the reading from John, that we might find the Christmas story in this as well.



At the very start, there was one who is called the Word.
........The Word was with God,
................and the Word was God.
........From day one, God and the Word were inseparable.
It was through the Word that everything was created.
........There is absolutely nothing that doesn’t owe its existence to him.
In the Word was life.
........He is the source of the life
................that turns on the lights for everyone.
........The light of his life breaks open the darkness,
................and the darkness could not snuff it out.
Once there was a man on a mission from God;
........his name was John.
John gave a first-hand report about the light,
........spelling it out so that everyone could believe.
He wasn’t the light, himself,
The real light was on his way into the world;
........the light that lights up inside of everyone.
He was in the world
........but the world didn’t even notice him
................even though it owed its existence to him.
He turned up on his own planet, among those he created,
........but his own people turned their backs on him.
Some people accepted him, though,
........and put their trust in who he said he was
................and what he said he was on about.
He gave to those people all they needed
........to become children of God.
Becoming God’s children had nothing to do
........with sperm and egg,
................or hours of labor;
........they became God’s children
................when they were born of God.

The Word, though, was born flesh and blood like everyone else.
........He cast in his lot with us
................and moved into our neighborhood.
We have seen him in all his glory,
........like father, like son;
warm and generous to a fault,
........solid and true to the core.


This is the Christmas story as much as the reading from Luke is the Christmas story.  This story tells us about how Christ came into the world.  And as we go forth from here this Christmas morning, let us remember all the different ways Christ is present in this world – not just in the two readings from Luke and from John, but in our hearts and in our lives and in all the different ways we bring Christ’s presence in the world.  I believe our lives too are the Christmas story. They may not make a good Christmas pageant or be like poetry, but our lives are about Christ being present in this world and that is an amazing gift.

[1] ©2000 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net