Bridging the gap

Christmas Eve 2013

John 1:1-14 – a reflection

Marian Free

In the name of God who will stop at nothing to ensure that we reach our full potential. Amen.

“In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and the Word was God.” Have you ever noticed that John’s gospel denies us the Nativity. Not for John the angels, the shepherds or the Magi. John does not mention Mary or Joseph or Bethlehem. Those looking for familiar images or for the Christmas card stories will find none of that sentimentality here. The author of John takes us back to the very beginning – to creation. Whereas Matthew and Luke use genealogies to trace Jesus’ lineage – Matthew to Abraham, Luke all the way back to God. John makes it very clear that Jesus existed before anything else. According to John, Jesus is much more than Luke’s “Son of God”. Before time began – the Word, Jesus, co-existed with God, in fact was God.

Luke and Matthew try to engage us with stories of Jesus’ human beginnings, John is much more interested in connecting us with the mystery of Jesus’ being both God and human. John tells us that in Jesus, God takes on human flesh and becomes fully engaged in human existence. John not only takes us back to the very beginning, but he also grounds us in the present. In the fourth Gospel we come face-to-face with the confronting reality(?) of a God who is fully human and a human who is fully God. Instead of contemplating a baby, we are forced to consider the deeper realities of our faith, to ask ourselves what does it mean? How can Jesus be both fully human and fully divine? Why would God abandon the heavenly realms for the messy, dirty, risky experience of earthly existence?

God enters our existence to bridge the gap, to heal the divide between human and divine, to show once and for all that all creation – including the human species – is infused with the presence of God, and to demonstrate that God is intimately engaged with God’s creation. The Word made flesh is not a dispassionate, detached deity who is uninterested in human affairs, but in the person of Jesus, has fully identified with the human condition – assuring us that nothing is outside of God’s concern, that our daily lives are not so dull that God is not interested in them. The Word made flesh is proof positive that unlike us, God does not make a distinction between the holy and the mundane, the extraordinary and the ordinary. When God in Jesus took on human form, God in effect declared that all creation bears the image of God.

When we revisit the baby, we discover that the child in the cradle is just as confronting and challenging as the Word made flesh. There, vulnerable and dependent lies God himself – totally (and at great risk) entering into the human condition. This is what we discover once more at Christmas time. God’s love for the world was so great that God could not stand aloof, but had to become one with God’s creation, so that creation could achieve its true purpose – to become one with God.

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