1 Christmas – Year A

Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 147 or 147:13-21; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18

“I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind; in the midst of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter.” – Francis Thompson

                The nostalgic story of Christmas has angels, shepherds, baby Jesus and more.  Nostalgic stories are easy to tame or use for commercial purposes.  Some years ago Hewlett Packard celebrated the twelve days of Christmas by having a special computer or printer sale for each day.  Mistakenly, they placed the twelve days during Advent, the days before December 25.  Gone was the ancient tradition of December 25 being the first day of Christmas followed by the next eleven days.  Our whole culture has creative commercial ways of keeping Christmas for its own financial purposes, and fleeing the Word (with a capital W) at the same time, fleeing the challenge to transform our lives.  Francis Thompson in the Hound of Heaven tells us that the flight effort is futile.  This Sunday’s Gospel from John’s Prologue tells us why.  Rather than relating the manger and baby story, John has a philosophical account of the Incarnation.  He speaks of the Word existing from all time, and the Word being with God and actually being God, and taking flesh, and being life and light.  Then he says the Word pitched his tent among us (see Greek below).  We may sit in our half empty churches and ask: “Where are all the people?”  But the real question is: “Where is God?”  God is with the people, he pitched his tent in our midst.  If the people move or flee, God pulls up stake and follows and relocates like a nomad.  Tents are easy to move.  Institutions of stone cold hearts are difficult to live in and even more difficult to move.  The good news is that God is always with us no matter where we go, no matter what.

Greek

                In John 1:14 it says: “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” (NRSV)  However, literally the Greek says: “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.”

Haiku

Can’t flee the tent God,

flesh dressing to follow us,

pursue not alone.