John 1:1-15, 16-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Child is Born in Us
The Congregational Church of Easton – Dec. 31, 2023
Happy New Year, almost! New Years is my favorite holiday. I love waking up on New Year’s Day with a sense of a fresh start. The past is over, and a whole new year spreads out in front of me, like a blank sheet of paper.
Its an experience of grace. The past is forgiven, and the future is open.
It is a new beginning.
The author of John talks about a new beginning. He starts his gospel, saying “In the beginning was the Word.” It sounds like the first line of Genesis: “In the beginning God….” But where are Mary and Joseph and the baby in John’s gospel? Where are the shepherds and the angels? It’s odd.
There is method in John’s madness, though. This passage is often read on Christmas Eve. The reason it is read on Christmas Eve is that it captures the heart and meaning of the Christmas story in a nutshell.
The author is saying the child is born, not just in a Manger long ago, but here, today, now — in US! John is talking about our birth. Christmas is not just about Jesus’ birthday. It is our birthday as well. Christmas is the day that symbolizes our own birth as children of God.
There is a 14th century German theologian and preacher by the name of Meister Eckhart. Eckhart talks about the “birth of the word in [our] soul[s].” “The birth of the word in the soul” is the central theme of all his teachings.
What Eckhart is saying is that the mind of God — the spirit that was in Jesus — comes alive in us continuously, millisecond by millisecond.
It sounds radical to our ears, but it is actually based soundly in scripture. Hear the words of John, again:
In the beginning was the Word, 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.
All things — including you and me — came into being in God before the big bang, according to John’s gospel. He goes even further and says, “…Without him not one thing came into being.” John is saying without the Word, the mind of God, you and I could not exist.
In Meister Eckhart’s language, the Word, the essence of God, is being born in us right this second.
You may be asking, “Where is this Word born in my soul?” How do I find it? How do I feel it in my bones?”
Here’s a suggestion: Pretend you are one of the wise men or women searching for the star. The star is the Divine child in you, the Divine spark, the Divine Word.
As a wise woman or a wiseman stand back and watch yourself as you pass the peace at the end of this service. Pay attention to each handshake or hug you give people and each one that your receive. Pay attention to how you greet people tonight or on New Year’s Day. Observe the smiles on their faces and the way you feel when people wish you Happy New Year.
As you pay attention to the love that flows so freely in this season, you will have found the Divine children that we are together. You will have experienced what John is talking about when he writes about us being children of God.
As you watch your loving self go through the rituals of New Years and watch the gentleness and love of others — AND as you experience the loving community of this congregation, you will experience and know the Christ that is born in each of us and in us together, because it’s in the flow of love Like the Wisemen, you will see the Christ Child beneath the star in each act of love.
You will have found the star. In this expanded consciousness, as you watch your loving self go through the rituals of this season – In this heightened awareness, you will experience the birth of the Child in your soul. You will know the Christ that is within you. You will see the star of Bethlehem and the Christ child beneath it in each act of love. You will see Emmanuel – Gpd with us.
Thanks be to God for the gift of the Christ child born in us together, today, tonight, tomorrow, and always. Amen.