The Word of the day for the First Sunday After Christmas is.... Word. Check out the collect for this Sunday:
"Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of
your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our
hearts, may shine forth in our lives..."
The Word, as we will learn in the Gospel lesson from John, was with God. It was in the beginning, just like at the start of Genesis. John the Evangelist makes a rhetorical point to use the same structure as the opening of the first book of Torah for a reason. He is writing to an audience that is suffering rejection from within the Jewish community because they maintain that Jesus is the Messiah for whom they've been waiting. John's Gospel gives this group the assurance of the rightness of their position because not only was Jesus a human being; he is fully divine. And--yes--this would be a major schism between Christians and Jews.
Similar to the way last week's lesson with Elizabeth and Mary was the meeting of the old and the new, I see this week's Gospel as John taking what is the text of the old, familiar Torah of the Jews and using it to tell a new story, the one of the Word made incarnate, Jesus Christ. The plot of the story, that God loves us and wants the best for us, is still the same. But with Christ, God is embarking on a new tactic to keep us engaged in relationship by bringing the Divine into the world as one of us, the God with us, the Word made flesh.
In today's vernacular, when somebody says, "Word," it means, "Truth." It's a convenient shorthand for, "You speak the truth on this subject." So, what is the truth for us on this subject of 'the Word'? In essence, that is the place I think we are now as we tell the story of who we are as Christians in our season of Christmas. God has re-entered the world, and now we must consider and encounter this Word. And really what I think that means is we must confront our own truth, whatever that may be. It may require us to let go of long-held beliefs and see things in a different way. This may be a time of personal transition that requires stepping outside of the familiar patterns to learn something new, or accept that new circumstances require a shift in the way 'things have always been.' It may be the time for coming to a new place of letting Love into your heart, so that you may learn to love the person you are as you are, not as others think you ought to be. This incarnate Word is not just an abstract other; it's the in-dwelling of Christ in each of us, and he's on a mission to spread Love to all, everybody, no exceptions. Are we ready?