Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Gospel of John places Jesus’ birth in the context of the whole cosmos, connecting the birth of a little baby with the eternal expanse that is God’s canvas for creation. The Gospel of John uses “Word” or in Greek, “logos,” to name this person of God we call Jesus. Most of us don’t know Greek, and “Word” can seem too much a static thing to capture all that John is trying to express, so I find “voice” and “song” to be better translations. Listen again to the good news:
In the beginning was the Song, and the Song was with God, and the Song was God. All things came into being through this Singing, and not one thing came into being outside of this Song. God’s voice sang notes into the void, and the notes took shape and formed into worlds and stars and people and animals. And the Song that formed them remained with them and was at their center, so that they could dance according to its melody. This Song was their life. It was their purpose and hope and joy.
The Jesus who is born in a stable, to unwed parents, under the Roman Empire, is the very Song of God. Jesus is God, come to us, come for us. The Song is not separate from the singer, but is an active expression that reaches our ears and our hearts.
At St. Olaf College, church was at 10:30am Sunday mornings, late enough for most college students. Church at that time meant that we’d walk out of the chapel, down the hallway, pick up a few late sleeping friends from Fireside Lounge, and walk up the stairs to the dining hall. The noise of that walk would reflect worship. You’d hear humming or whistling of that final, sending hymn. Or maybe refrains from the choir piece. My head would reverberate with the tunes. The song of the Church, the song of God, had become a part of each of us. We carried it with us as we returned to the rhythm of life.
This is a reflection of the way the Song of God acts in our lives. Jesus has come from God to restore God’s Song to human life, to creation. We are meant to carry this Song in our hearts, so that our whole life is a dance to God’s tune. Jesus is the Song who birthed us, He is the Song of our hearts, the Song of our life. Jesus is the form and director who shapes and guides our lives. Even if you’re not always conscious of the ways your life is making melodies in the Song of God, Jesus is singing to you and the Spirit guides your response.
If you’ve been in a store this past month, and I’d guess most of you have- you’ve heard holiday music. Maybe you didn’t pay it much attention. But even so, your actions may have started to sync to the beat. I’m not much of a musician, but even so, I’ve noticed my steps down the aisles fall into rhythm. Or as I’ve waited in line, I’ve been tapping my fingers or toes. If someone had been standing outside the store and asked me what song I had just heard, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell them, but I still had been reacting to its influence over me.
In this way, God’s Song may not be loud or obtrusive, but still invites us to dance. The Song of God, the God who comes to us, longs to be the beat to which we live our days. Jesus’ life teaches us the way of God’s Song.
The lyrics of this Song are stories of love. It is love that sent the One who creates all things into creation- to be born of a human mother, welcomed by shepherds, and laid in a manger. It is love that sent this One to the sick, outcast, and forgotten, to restore them to health and community. It is love that led this One to the cross, to stare death in the face and declare a love for you that is so strong, even abandonment and torture will not break that love. It is love that won over death, so that through this One’s resurrection, the deaths of all people would be traded for life.
In Jesus Christ, come for you, God’s love Song takes on flesh. As a song leaves the lips of a singer and fills an open room, delighting the ears of all within, Jesus has come from God to touch creation, and delight all with the good news of God’s love. This Song, through whom all things began, will also restore all things, and renew our lives.
Rejoice: dance and sing! Today we celebrate that God has come for us. The Song that was first sung at the beginning of all things continues to sing life into all creation. One day, that Song will draw all things into harmony with himself and no longer will there be any discord. Jesus’ birth confirms your hope: God loves you, God is coming to us to heal the world and to bring you joy.
May you be filled with the Song of God, and hear the beautiful response of all creation singing in tune with its creator.
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