In the Lectionary

December 25, Christmas Day: John 1:1-14

We don't need to explain logos theology; we need to bear witness to Jesus coming into our world.

The Fourth Gospel begins with a prologue that is quite complex—and quite unlike anything known to the other three. Interpreting it for Christmas Day worshipers requires nothing short of a reset button, if one hopes to be heard with profit. These worshipers are restless; often their attention spans allow them to grapple for just a little while with the new, the now, and the next, to say nothing of the complex. The mere mention on Christmas Day of a “word becoming flesh” is likely to cause people to wander off into the wild, blue yonder. To wade in too deeply with exegetical expertise may well reduce a preacher’s words to irrelevance—especially in the holiday season, when even the most ardent Christians still have many unchecked items on their to-do list.

Yet this passage is such an important one for contemporary listeners. And it is a preacher’s responsibility to reach some kind of a “so what” moment from John’s prologue, from grappling with this in-breaking activity on the part of God.

The prologue forms a hymn dedicated to a heavenly being who became human on our behalf. Its opening words bear witness to the life of God in Jesus and the oneness of the Word with God. This is our story—this Word who is Jesus has been sent by God into our world—and Christmas is a time for us to reaffirm its promise and hope in our lives. This story at the heart of our faith must be constantly reaffirmed.