Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Incarnation Hangover


Our church's offices are closed again today, as they are every year, as we all recover from the Christmas sprint. This year, this break seems particularly important as we had the fullness of a Sunday morning plus Christmas Eve and then another service on Christmas Day all in a row. I'm discovering for the first time in eleven years that a Christmas Eve on a Sunday isn't as hard as I expected it to be. It's kind of nice to have all of that push at once instead of splitting up the week. But now it's time to prepare for a sermon for this coming Sunday, and I find that I have a bit of an incarnation hangover for which the hair of the dog might be the only cure.

This year, we all had to work hard to keep Advent as Advent and transform the church and our hearts into Christmas in between the morning services and the evening celebrations. Because of that--because of that intentional delay--it was easy to over-indulge on Christmas when it got here. The "Merry Christmas"es that were exchanged at church Sunday evening felt particularly celebratory, and the joy of that night seemed as splendid as ever. Because I'd been denying myself (and my poor family) the Feast of the Nativity for so long, we all dove in head first. I've woken up today, the second day of Christmas, to sort everything out. Is it really Tuesday? Who's having surgery today? Who needs a hospital visit? And am I really preaching on John 1 this Sunday? Another incarnation sermon?

As I read John 1 this morning and wonder what in the world a sermon might look like this week, I am drawn to the transition between verses 13 and 14: "And the Word became flesh and lived among us..." Up until that point, the Word was described with words like light and life. The light was coming into the world and John the Baptizer was sent to proclaim the coming of that light and the world did not know him, but still the Word was light and life--not flesh. Then, all of the sudden, in verse 14, the Word becomes flesh and yet still we see the glory--the light--within it. I love how John gives us two glances at the incarnation--the light that was coming into the world and the flesh that the Word became.

I'm not ready yet, and that's ok because I have a few more days to think and pray and study a super-familiar text. Unfortunately, it's a short week, and I'm still a little stunned from the last few days. I'm going to sip on this gospel text slowly and trust that in time things will begin to come into focus.

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