and Christmas 1999
the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us ... " (John 1:14)
she brought forth her first-born son ... and laid him in a manager
..." (Luke 2:7)
of my favourite moments of the church year is the proclamation of John's
Gospel in the Christmas midnight Eucharist. The first verse solemnly
announces "In the beginning was the Word ...." the rhythmic
verses move to capture all that we celebrate in the Birth Day of
Christ;" the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; ... " This
reading was assigned to the celebration of the nativity in ancient times,
before the development of the season of advent, when the nativity marked
the beginning of the Christian year. The Prayer Book tradition, and the
(new) Revised Common Lectionary each assign it a significant place in the
Christmas cycle of readings. It will be the gospel reading at the 11:30
p.m. midnight Eucharist in our parish.
many worshippers, the story of the birth of Jesus, according to St. Luke,
captures in several verses the full meaning of the nativity of the Lord.
The mother and child, the shepherds and angels are the wonder of Luke's
account. They populate our hearts at the Christmas celebration. Provision
is made for this reading to be used at a Christmas celebration. It will be
the Gospel reading at the Children and Family Eucharist Service at 4:30
p.m. Christmas Eve, and again at 10:00 a.m. Christmas Day. Clearly Luke
would have us understand that the Christmas story is the Christ story.
of these Gospel readings has a compelling pair of messages. The readings
call us to worship. St. John bids us join in a hymn to the Word made
flesh. St. Luke beckons us to place our earthly voices with those of the
heavenly host --rejoicing in peace and divine favour. The readings, with
equal force, call us to lives of mercy and compassion. John tells us that
what God means for the world is conveyed in the flesh. Luke places the
birth of the Christ child in the midst of poverty and oppression. We
should know that for both John and Luke, God is worshipped and the world
matters dearly. May our celebration of Christ's birth join our adoration
and praise to a striving after justice and peace.