A sermon for Christmas Day, 2012. The lectionary readings are Isaiah 52:7-10 , Hebrews 1:1-12 , John 1:1-14 , and Psalm 98.
The word we choose or the word we choose NOT to choose says a lot about us. We can try to impress. We can try to mislead or suggest. We can do all sorts of things with words.
Words can hurt, but words just as surely can heal. A well-chosen and well-placed word can offer encouragement, hope and life. I remember well the morning of my ordination to the priesthood. There were seven of us to be ordained. Our families, friends, and parishes had all gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. We were already nervous when the Canon for Liturgy asked all of us seven to meet the bishop in a side chapel. We immediately wondered if someone’s paperwork had not come through, or if there were some scandal brewing that no one knew about. Every conceivable problem went through our minds. And then the bishop came into the chapel. Taking a deep breath, he prefaced his remarks as you might imagine—commenting on the gravity of the day, the ontological change about to take place in our souls, the life for which we would be responsible for living in the future, and then he said, “So, I have something to say to you that I hope you’ll remember. Be nice.” Just a couple of words—well- chosen words that I complete fail at remembering or living out—but words I aim for.
It is no coincidence that our Biblical account of creation happens by a word. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, God said, "Let there be light.” And there was light. God said, Let there be this, and let there be that, and after each thing was created, God spoke a single word again: “Good,” God said, “It’s all very, very good.”
The Word was busy, shaping and making and proclaiming and blessing. The Gospel of John picks up on this power of a word to create. “In the beginning was the Word,” John says, “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it….And the Word became flesh.”
While Jesus was born once in the event we celebrate at Christmas, he is also born again and again in our own lives and in our world wherever we make his love known. One way we can bring Christ into our world in through our words.