Archives: John 1:1-18

Day 7 to Day 8: Naming the Truth

One week. In the nativity story, Jesus is one week old.

We in the Church are still knee-deep in the Feast of Christmas, even though most of the rest of the world has moved onto after-Christmas sales and New Year’s Eve partying.

There are twelve days of Christmas, and we’re only on Day 7.

So today we celebrate the First Sunday of Christmas, and we have what I think are jarringly grand scriptures.

In Isaiah, we read phrases like, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

In Galatians, we hear, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.”

And then, of course, we have John’s Prologue. “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.”

It’s all this sweeping cosmic theology, and in the case of Isaiah, seriously grand celebration.

It’s all very appropriate for examining the deep eternal meaning of Christmas and the world-changing implications of the Incarnation.

But I can tell you right now that it has precious little to do with what’s happening to the Holy Family at this moment. Continue reading

An Episcopalian Attempts to Become a Respectable Protestant (by Memorizing Scripture)

I decided the week before Christmas to memorize an entire portion of scripture, because I am insane.

It wasn’t a totally random idea, although it was a little crazy to take on in the midst of all the Christmas preparations for church and last minute gift buying.

This was a 3-sermon week, after all, so why not make it more difficult?

I’m part of a Facebook group called the Young Clergy Women Project, and we talk shop and exchange tips and ideas about ministry together.

Well, a group of women were discussing how they had in the past or this year were planning to memorize the birth narrative, the Christmas story, Luke 2:1-20, so they could deliver it without holding a book in church on Christmas Eve, truly from their hearts.

I thought it was a delightful idea, and I thought, “Have fun, ladies! Not a chance in heck I’m doing something like that!” and went on with my day. Continue reading

The Gospel of John: Seduced by Unhelpful Poetry

Since 2014 seems to be a year of my reimagining my ideas around a lot of Biblical passages and Christian ideas, I thought I’d round out the year with preaching on what in the past has been one of my least favorite portions of scripture up to now, John’s prologue.

The first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John have summed up what for me has always been the problem with the entire Gospel of John. It’s too floaty, too esoteric, too obscure and abstract and idealized.

It’s poetry, yes, but it’s not particularly helpful poetry, and when I read the Bible, I’d like to gather some sort of concrete idea of what to do in my life on an everyday basis.

Even Jesus in the Gospel of John seems to float about three feet off the ground the whole time, aloof and distant and prone to giving long, repetitive speeches that create the same glaze over my eyes that I get when I read my IRS forms at tax time.

But the Holy Spirit is a sneaky and crafty adversary when it comes to my trying to dismiss entire portions of the canon of scripture. Continue reading

The Disco Fiber Optic Holy Family

One of the things friends do for each other in seminary is exchange websites featuring bizarre religious phenomena. It helped remind us that other people do things in pursuit of serving God even stranger than work on the “Hot or Not: Theologians vs. Martyrs” bulletin board in the student lounge.

One of my favorite of these websites was a blogpost my dear friend Lindsay sent me called “Cavalcade of Bad Nativities: It Came Upon a Midnight Weird.” An Episcopalian in California had browsed through eBay and found so many strange nativity crèches that she compiled them into one spectacular gallery to share with the world.

Among the truly unfortunate ways people decided to depict the manger scene were the marshmallow nativity, the rubber ducky nativity, the inflatable nativity, the leprechaun nativity, and the celebrity nativity with Victoria Beckham as the Virgin Mary, Hugh Grant and Samuel L. Jackson as shepherds, and George W. Bush as a Wise Man, to which I’m just going to say “no comment.” Continue reading