Author: Craig Barth
Reading: John 1 1-14
Wait a minute! This is a Christmas Day story? Where’s “O little town of Bethlehem?” The narrative attributed to John is not a story of where and how but more of why and how come. Each narrative is equally meaningful. I live with these different narratives, not an “either-or/right-wrong” contrast but a “yes-and.”
How we are so trained to see the world in “either-or” contrasts! When I was a rambunctious boy, I remember that the words go out and play often meant cowboys and Indians with cap guns! How repugnant that now feels. Though sadly, it continues to this day. All one needs to do is turn on the T.V. or your laptop, and you know in an instant who are spun to be the “good” guys and who spun to be the “bad” guys. Our view of the hurting world is filled with such dichotomies. It is simpler to picture, though not always compassionate.
Our God is a God full of “yes-ands.” Even in this John narrative, the writer says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.” It does not say that the light overtook or obliterated the darkness either. It is not a static picture but a dynamic process. The One True Light shines in the midst of the darkness. Kathleen Thomerson’s Hymn “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” describes this dynamic tension in the line “The day and the night are both alike.” Another example of “yes-and.”
Our God narrative is not only replete with yes-ands but with surprises as well. Think of the entire Christ birth story: a common, everyday couple placed in a refugee situation, giving birth in a faraway land for them, then having to flee shortly after he was born. Full of surprises!
The Rabbi was not trained in ecclesiastical ways of the established religion but in the trade of carpentry. Full of surprises!
Gracious loving God, may we not view this world with either/or eyes but with yes/and hearts. As we consume ourselves with Advent and Christmas season, may we be aware of all the little surprises in our comings and goings. May we always remember that you are the Big Surprise for our hurting hearts and a weary world.
Surprise someone with an act of kindness and thoughtfulness. If you know someone who likes apple pie, make or get a pie, ring their doorbell and run! Make your surprise a family affair by cutting out a snowflake, glittering it, and mailing it to somebody (return address optional).