The Word Is Still Becoming Flesh – A Sermon On John 1:1-18

"Through a cloud darkly" by Nick Vidal-Hall is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The First Sunday After Christmas Day – John 1:1-18

Yesterday afternoon I was in my office here at church doing some work. The outside doors were locked and the lights were off. The sign on the door says the office is closed on Saturday. That, however, did not stop her. She knocked loudly. Boldly. I could tell she wanted something. 

I looked out the widow but did not recognize the woman standing there. I unlocked and opened the door. “Sir,” she said, “you all helped me with clothes one time.” She pointed to the other side of the church and continued, “I got some clothes from that building over there. It was about three years ago. You all helped me.” She told me her name was Martina. And then she pulled two large bags from her car and said, “I would like to give back and help someone. I have some clothes to give you.”

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

Compassion became flesh in Martina. Generosity became flesh in Martina. Love became flesh in Martina. She embodied the Word of God in the particularities and uniqueness of her life, her thisness as I called it on Christmas Eve

As she drove away I said to myself, “Now that’s the Christmas story.” 

It’s the story St. John tells in today’s gospel (John 1:1-18) and it’s very different from the one we heard St. Luke tell on Christmas Eve (Luke 2:1-20). One is not better than the other. They’re just different. We need both. 

For Luke it is about Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem, an angel announcing good news to the shepherds, and Jesus lying in the manger. It is a story about thisness: “this day,” “this thing that has happened,” and “this child.”

For John the story is cosmic. It’s about the Word becoming flesh, light shining in the darkness, and grace upon grace. It’s a creation story, an “In the beginning” story, a story of becoming and the calling forth of life. 

Luke holds before us the child, “a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” John says we have been given “power to become children of God.”

Luke tells us what’s happening. John tells us what’s going on in what is happening. And I wonder what’s going on in Christmas for you? I’m not asking what happened, but what’s going on? What Word is becoming flesh in you?

I think most of us hear about the Word becoming flesh and living among us and we immediately assume it’s about Jesus. I don’t disagree with that. I think the Word becoming flesh is about Jesus, I just don’t think it is exclusive to Jesus, as if Jesus is the only one in whom the Word became or can become flesh. 

What about you and me? What about this power to become children of God? What about the Word becoming flesh in us? What about Martina? 

The incarnation of God, the embodiment of God in human life, the Word become flesh, is not limited to Jesus. Jesus is the picture, the pattern, the archetype of what the Word become flesh looks like. And we look at that picture so that we can recognize it in ourselves and one another. 

We see Jesus enfleshing the Word of God throughout his life. He enfleshes forgiveness, love, mercy, peace, gentleness, nonviolence, wisdom, compassion, generosity. He is our way, our truth, our life. He personifies who we are and who we can become. 

In today’s gospel John speaks of becoming or coming into being five times. The Christmas story as told by John is not just a story of something God caused to happen. It is a story of God calling. It is God calling for the Word to become flesh. It is God insisting that God’s Word be given existence in the uniqueness of each of our lives. 

Suppose that’s what’s going on in what is happening at Christmas. 

Suppose God is calling you and me, asking and waiting for a response. 

Suppose God needs us and our flesh as much as we need God and God’s spirit. 

Suppose the Word of God can exist, desires to exist, needs to exist in your and my flesh to the same extent and fullness as it does in the flesh of Jesus.

Suppose that without our flesh God does not, cannot, exist in the world.  

Suppose all that and then look at your life; the people, relationships, and circumstances. Picture their faces. Speak their names. Describe what is happening.

And then tell me this: what’s going on in what’s happening? What’s the insistence? What Word is calling for existence in your flesh today? 

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” 

It did in Jesus. And it did in Martina. So, what about you and me?


  1. I never thought of myself as becoming the Word made flesh. I want to post this in my car, at my phone, everywhere I look. I can be the Word made flesh to someone. Grace. Joy. An honor.

    Liked by 1 person

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