So I will say a couple short things and invite you to waltz into the text in your own way to let it become what it will in the silence of your own heart.
The word “word” here is not like a word you could find in a dictionary. Remember that the ancients wrote very little. Theirs was the oral tradition where the event actually lived on in the telling. To read and discuss the Jewish literature of the Talmud was to encounter the living God. In the retelling of the story of the Last supper at our Eucharist, we are not just remembering; we are participating again in the original meal. “”On the night before he died for us…” and we are there. In John’s Gospel, the Word” is creative. It is what exploded at the Big Bang, cast galaxies, stars, and nebulae across the universe, started the process of evolving life from microscopic creatures in the ocean on into complex creatures like running cheetahs, diving humpback whales, soaring Sandhill cranes. And it created us with our fantastically connected systems of blood, bile, neurons, muscles, oxygen, which allow us to play the piano, write a letter, touch a child. That Word is never static. It did not just speak once and not again.
The Aboriginal people, when they do their walk-abouts have to sing as they walk, so that their words create the land over the horizon. They understand the creative power of words. The Inuits, as the days darken into the long winter without the sun, sing the sun back into the sky. They too understand the creative power of words. Since we have just passed the Solstice, clearly it works.
But Richard Valantasis reminds us the Greek word we translate “word” here means far more than that. It is not just the creating word. It is also a dynamic word, going out, responding, going out anew, responding—it is actually closer to the word “conversation.” So hear it again: “In the beginning was the Conversation. And the Conversation was with God, and the Conversation was God….Without the Conversation nothing was made that was made…And the Conversation became Flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen the glory…”
And so that gives us a new image for Jesus, the Conversation made flesh and dwelling among us. It means that it is the intent of the Holy to be in relationship with all creation, to communicate, to love, to experience, to laugh, to weep, to be involved and a part of Creation itself. The Holy is not remote, setting things in motion and then going off to play golf on the far side of Heaven. The Holy is always present, always calling, always inviting, always yearning for us to pay attention. God is not “out there” waiting for us to get our acts together before God leaps into the fray.
Recently someone said to me “I’ll come back to church when I get my act together.” I responded, “If your act is together when you come back to church, you’ll be the only one there with a perfect act!” When a man came up to the altar for Eucharist once with his arms crossed, muttering, “I am not worthy, I am not worthy,” my friend the priest responded, “None of us is worthy! Take it!” Let go of self-judgment. If wonder why I am the only one in the world without a picture perfect Christmas home, or church, or service then I have placed my own worthiness up as an idol. So quickly we can beat on ourselves. Let it go. Let it all go. If God asks none of that from us, why should we?
Christmas is not a Currier and Ives card. Christmas is not a Hallmark movie. Christmas is the message that God comes into our real world, enters our real lives, walks among real people. God steps into what is messy and broken, what is perpetually unfinished and abandoned, into what is clueless and doubting. Like me. Maybe like you. God is born in pain and blood to a young woman who had no more idea about being a mother than I did, let alone the mother of God.
God does not wait for us to welcome him properly. Instead, God turns the tables on us. God becomes us to welcome us into new life in God. God does not wait for us to prepare a place for him; God instead comes to prepare a place for us. God does not expect us to be worthy to receive him. God makes us worthy by coming among us and sharing our life in our skin with all that that means. Do you know that? Really? Do you welcome that?
Incarnation says God is with us w-a-a-a-ay before we come to perfection. When all things were quite silent, before we even noticed, the Almighty Word leaped down, and in, and through. An old English hymn I love sings “The maker of all things is made of the earth; man is worshiped by angels, and God comes to birth.” That’s not just the ending; it’s also the beginning
Woah! Do you see how this changes everything? It means everything is holy. The ground we walk on, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the hands we touch! There is nothing outside the Conversation! We are never—can be never alone. Even those who feel the pain of aloneness at this time of year are included in the sanctity of the Conversation with God whose love for all Creation brought God into relationship with all of it in ways that continue their dynamic, joyful creative process.
Here is an image I leave with you. Imagine a great dance—the greatest dance, in which all things participate, from the tiniest naked mole rat to the galaxies themselves, each with billions of stars, all bowing, spinning, leaping, twirling, kicking their heels (tails, fins, wings) to the cosmic music of utter joy. Each of us also is there in our human bodies which astonishingly—never get sore or tired of dancing. And among us all dances the Creator, dancing with you, and you, and you, who is also the music, the light, the process, calling us to the joy of praise with wild abandon, head thrown back in ecstasy of delight when we enter the party. That is Christmas, Beloved. The Word, the Conversation, the Dance was made flesh; was made us; was made you, me, together in the service of love, and holds out the hand of invitation. Would you like to dance?