January 3, 2021 | 2nd Sunday of Christmas | And the Word Became Flesh! | John 1:10-18 | Pastor Norma Johnson

And the Word Became Flesh!

A fisherman fell off a fishing pier one time – and was about to go under.  Another fisherman nearby, hearing his cry for help, shouted to him: “How can I help you?  What can I do?”  The drowning man shouted back: “For heaven’s sake, give me something to hold on to!”

This is the first Sunday of the new year, and what do we have to hold on to?  Christmas, and New Year’s Day, have come and gone once again … and the time to settle into the routine of winter and the coronavirus is now here.  And so, we begin another year.

But Marjorie Holmes once said that each New Year is like opening an intriguing mystery story.  What’s going to happen?  Where will it lead?  What new opportunity is there in this New Year?  Well with a vaccine coming true and a new pastor about to be called – I’d say we have a great deal to look forward to.

With opportunity in mind, then, let’s go to the very heart of our faith this morning – so we can start off the New Year with “something to hold on to.”

Our Gospel lesson from John gives us the heart of our faith – in no uncertain terms!

This first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John is the creed which John shared with his congregation over 2,000 years ago.  It was the creed which stated for them who Jesus was and how he was the Word, through whom God created the world.  This chapter begins with the words: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and lived among us … !”

I once heard a fellow Christian say that “Creeds are not meant to be signed … they are meant to be sung!”  That’s another way of saying that they are to be joyfully shared!

But let’s look at this Prologue to John’s Gospel and see what it means …  There are those who use a high-flying eagle as a symbol for St. John the Evangelist … and the words to this Prologue, or poem, seem to soar like an eagle … we can almost put them to music.  But John’s poem does not end with the height of its soaring.  Instead, the eagle suddenly dives toward the ground.  The music gives way to the thud of a bass drum as heaven crashes to earth … with the words: “And the word became flesh and lived among us!”

In other words, we meet God through Christ in the human community … for it was God who became flesh – not flesh that became God.   We do not meet God in the ethereal – or out there someplace.  Instead, through Christ, we meet God in the not so rosy, in wasted lives, in hurt and hurting people, in hardship, drudgery, yes, even in this COVID experience, as well as in evil and in tragedy.

Because the Word became flesh, it means that there is no corner of experience so hidden that grace cannot find it.  There is no soil so sterile that the seed of holy wonder cannot grow in it.  There is no moment so dark that it can extinguish the light of God.  Therefore, Christians, do not just celebrate life.  We also celebrate God who enters the life of creation … “and the Word became flesh and lived among us …!”

And, how does this play itself out for us, then, in our own lives?  Let me share with you three situations.

First:  There was this woman who was a member of the Evangelism Committee for her church.  She was also the president of the local community’s association and, needless to say, was an extremely busy person.  Her calendar was always filled to capacity.  But, one day a single parent moved into the house next door to her.  She decided that she would find time to call on her new neighbor and welcome her into the neighborhood.  She did so one afternoon but to no avail – because her new neighbor was not at home.  So, she made it a point to stop by again, despite her busy schedule, on another day.  When she did so, she found the young woman was so pleased that someone would be bothered to stop by and see her.  They sat and talked for a very long time … sharing a some of themselves with each other.  The two women hit it off well and it was the beginning of a long and mutually rewarding relationship.  And so, an unscheduled visit was the beginning of a new opportunity.

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

I share with you another story:  Once upon a time (and all the best stories start this way), a young boy set his heart on owning a dog.  He saved his money, and then, to his delight, he saw an ad for six cocker spaniel puppies in the local newspaper.  Just what he wanted!  He lost no time in hurrying to the home where the pups were for sale.

“Are these any pups left?” he asked the owner eagerly.

“Yes, son, there are.  Do you want to buy one?”

“Yes – but how much are they, please?”

“Twenty dollars each,” came the answer.

“Twenty dollars?  Oh, no!”  gasped the little boy in dismay, “I’ve only got $6.87.”

There was a heavy pause, then wistfully the young lad said:

“Could I just have a look at them?”

“Sure,” answered the man giving a whistle.

Out padded the mother cocker spaniel, followed by five puppies, all waving their little tails.

“Gee!” breathed the boy in delight.  But then he added, “I thought you had six.”

“we have, but we’ve found that one has a badly crippled leg, so he’s not suitable for selling.”

The boy’s eyes lit up, and his heart began to thump.

“Sir – d’ya reckon I could have him?”  He lifted one of his own pant legs to reveal a brace.

“That pup’s gonna need a lot of love from someone who knows what it’s like to be lame,” said the lad.  “I could give him that.”

“He’s yours!” answered the man, with a crinkly grin . . .

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

And a third example:  Once, while entertaining a small group of people, a famous actor was asked by a white-haired old man to recite the twenty-third psalm.  He did so, and, after his polished performance, there was a burst of applause from the appreciative audience.  Then, in an almost condescending way, the actor said to the old man, “Now what about you, my friend, would you like to stand up and recite that psalm for us?”  With the aid of his cane the old man stood up and in a thin quavering voice began, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . .”  When he finished, there was no applause . . . nor was there a dry eye among his listeners.  Greatly moved, the actor put his arm around the old man’s frail shoulders and said, “My friend, I know the psalm . . . but you know the Shepherd.”

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

As we begin this, another new year, may we continue to sing the creed that St. John shares with us this day, remembering that it is not only the heart of our faith – the “thing for us to hold on to” – but, remembering also, to share the song, so that others may hold onto it, too.

St. Theresa once wrote . . .

Christ has

No body now on earth but yours.

No hand but yours.

No feet but yours.

Your eyes are the eyes

Through which compassion will look upon the world.

Yours are the feet

With which Christ will go about doing good.

Yours are the hands

With which Christ will bless others now.

With this in mind, I remind you of the mission statement of the ELCA which reflects these thoughts when it states:


God’s work.   Our hands!


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


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