Christmas Eve 2017 is a Sunday which means that many of our churches will have a morning service, and an evening service or two. It is a busy day and in some churches, the morning service will be sparsely attended as people wait for the evening services. If you won’t have time to prepare a sermon, or you want to shorten and simplify the morning service, below is a reading for 2 voices based on John 1:1-14 that could be used in place of a sermon, or elsewhere in the service (it could be adapted for use on other occasions). It is a conversation with the Scripture passages interspersed with thoughts, comments and questions about it.
- Reader 1 will read Scripture verses in italics
- Reader 2 will read the thoughts,comments and questions.
- The congregation will speak a refrain when prompted by the ringing of a small bell or chime: the Word became flesh and lived among us…
- Reader scripts
- Small bell or chime
- Spoken refrain for congregation printed in bulletin or projected
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
When was the beginning exactly? How long ago? And who or what exactly is the Word? How can the Word be WITH God and also BE God? There are mysteries here to ponder. There are questions yet to ask. Today is a safe time, and this is a safe place, to ponder and to ask together, how: [BELL] the Word became flesh and lived among us…
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.
Yes, there are mysteries to ponder and questions to ask, but one thing is sure: that the Word is life that gives life…the Word is light that outshines the darkness. How this can be is shrouded. And what it means for the world is still unfolding. Still, we can rejoice in the promise of the Word, the one who brings life and light. And we can rejoice together, that: [BELL] the Word became flesh and lived among us…
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
I wonder why God chose John the Baptist. I wonder how John came to know all this about the Word who was coming into the world? I wonder also, where John’s courage came from to testify, to bear witness, to the light? Maybe his excitement for the light was greater than his fear? Maybe his desire to make the light shine was greater than his reasons to keep the it hidden. I wonder…what I would do if I was in John’s shoes. I wonder: AM I in John’s shoes? I wonder, will I risk testifying that: [BELL] the Word became flesh and lived among us…
The Word was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
It makes sense to me that many did not, and do not, know the Word. I understand how even his own people did not accept him. The mystery is too great. The questions are too numerous. And most of the people, most of the time have found no room in the inns of their hearts to believe. Our believing, though, cannot snuff out the life, or diminish the light, of the Word. And the good news of this day is that it is not about what WE do, but it is about what God did. And what God did is to ensure that: [BELL] the Word became flesh and lived among us…
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.
A long time ago, the writers of John’s Gospel wrote a song with some of the best news the world has ever heard. The song was filled with mysteries. It sung of life and light. It sung about John who was not the light but who testified to the light. It sang, too, about how hard it can be to believe in the Word. And through it all, this ancient song that we sing again today, celebrates how God refused to remain distant, refused to loiter in the heavens…but who choose to become flesh and blood and bone just…like…us. This flesh and blood and bone, a person named Jesus Christ, who we are blessed to say today was also the Word: [BELL] the Word became flesh and lived among us…
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. AMEN.
© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2017