The Word Became
by the Rev. Lee Woofenden
Bridgewater, Massachusetts, December 24, 1999
52:7-10 Your God reigns
beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who
proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to
Zion, "Your God reigns!" Listen! Your watchmen lift up their
voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they
will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you
ruins of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed
Jerusalem. The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the
nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
The Word became flesh
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and
without him not one thing was made that has been made. In him was life,
and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the
darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
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.
He was in
the world, and the world was made 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--children born, not of blood, or of the will of the
flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
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.
1:18 -25 The birth of Jesus Christ
of Jesus the Christ took place in this way: When his mother Mary had been
engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with
child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and
unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her
when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a
dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary
as your wife; for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She
will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his
people from their sins."
took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the
prophet, "Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they
will name him Emmanuel," which means, "God with us."
awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took
her as his wife, but had no union with her until she had borne a son. And
he gave him the name Jesus.
2:1-12 The visit of the Magi
In the time
of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from
the East came to Jerusalem asking, "Where is the child who has been
born king of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to
Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him. Calling
together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of
them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem
of Judea; for it has been written by the prophet, 'And you, Bethlehem, in
the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for
from you shall come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people
secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time the
star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search
diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so
that I too may go and worship him."
had heard the king, they went on their way; and the star that they had
seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where
the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On entering
the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down
and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him
gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream
not to return to Herod, they returned to their country by another road.
Word became flesh and lived among us. (John 1:14)
Heidi and I have a new thing going. A few weeks ago I got a cable modem
for our Internet connection. After much tearing out of hair, I managed to
get both the upstairs computer that I use in my study and the downstairs
computer that Heidi and Patty use networked to the cable modem. Both are
now continuously connected to the Internet.
she's not blocking our phone line every time she goes online, Heidi likes
to get on the computer and chat with her friends. And of course, she knows
where she'll find me much of the time: in front of my computer! I'll be
innocently putting together the Sunday service or writing the sermon, and
suddenly a message pops up on my screen. It's Heidi saying, "Papa,
will you please chat with me?" If I'm not too far behind
schedule, we'll type back and forth to each other for a little while. (If
you're getting worried that I now have an entirely virtual relationship
with my daughter, rest assured that we do see each other in person
at supper time each day!)
though, the window will pop up and it's Heidi saying, "Papa, will you
come down and help me with something?" I'll ask her what it is, and
if it's fairly basic, I'll type some suggestions to her. (I can type
faster than I can walk.) Often that works. But occasionally, after few
minutes have gone by, she'll type back, "I can't figure it out. Would
you please, please come down and help me?"
there is simply no substitute for going in person and helping out face to
face. This is exactly the situation--though on a far grander scale--that
the Lord was referring to when he wrote through the prophet Isaiah:
The Lord looked and was
displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no human to
intervene. So his own arm worked salvation for him. (Isaiah 59:15, 16)
the Lord had already tried sending us messages when we cried out for help
under the burden of all that is wrong with our world and with ourselves.
The Lord had already given us written instructions, delivered through the
spiritual "Internet" of inspired lawgivers and prophets like
Moses and Isaiah. In the Bible and the other sacred literature of our
world, God had given us a how-to manual thousands of pages long about life
and how to live it.
still didn't get it. We still thought that it was okay to be just a little
bit jealous or greedy or egotistical--and if someone got hurt in the
process, well, they'd get over it. Somehow, we still thought of them as
The Ten Pretty Good Ideas (When It's Convenient) instead of The Ten
Commandments. Somehow we still kept practicing injustice and oppression,
and we still brought pain and sorrow upon one another, and upon ourselves.
saw that working through human go-betweens--prophets and priests--would
not overcome the spiritual enemies of humankind and bring us joy and
peace. It was time to come and face personally all the evils of the world.
As Emanuel Swedenborg wrote:
If Jehovah God had not taken
upon himself a human form, and in this way clothed himself with a body
at the outmost level, he could not have accomplished any kind of
redemption. For how can anyone attack an enemy without coming and
equipping himself with weapons to use in fighting them? (True
Christian Religion #124.1)
Lord came personally to face and overcome all the forces of evil that were
dragging humanity down to its destruction.
life was not only about helping us by struggling against evil and hell. It
was also about showing us the way to heaven by his own personal
example. When he gave us the Bible and we still didn't "get it,"
he came down from heaven. He became a human being very much like ourselves
and lived among us. Instead of just talking about it, he showed us
how to live in a way that will give us the peace and harmony of mutual
love and understanding instead of the mutual misunderstanding and conflict
that we naturally fall into.
had taught us in writing how to love God above all, and our
neighbor as ourselves. Now he has come down personally and shown us
how to do it. The life of Jesus gives us the most powerful example of what
it means to be truly loving, wise, and human.
invites each of us to follow his example. Jesus invites us to take his
divine Word and flesh it out through intensely human lives of
thoughtfulness, kindness, and love. Amen.