“The Word became flesh and made his home among us.”

John 1:14

John’s Gospel is a rich one. Lots of theological language and symbolic imagery – just look at Sunday’s reading (John 1:1-18) with all this talk of Word becoming flesh, light overcoming darkness, and so forth. It is a powerful Gospel story, and one that we need. The distinct yet related Gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark and Luke are wonderful. But we also need the mysticism, imagery and differentness of John.

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That differentness confronts us this Sunday morning with an altogether unique way to describe how Jesus comes to earth. Whereas Matthew tells of foreign sages and a murderous puppet king, Luke gives us shepherds and prophesies, and Mark gives us, well, nothing (Mark doesn’t tell the story of Jesus’ birth), John gives us poetry about life and light.

In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

John 1:1-5

No cattle, no sheep, no star. But light, life, and a Word made flesh.

And this Word made flesh came and made his home among us.

We’ve moved a lot over the years, making our home in seven different communities in five states. Just since our wedding 15+ years ago, Jessicah and I have lived in Philadelphia, Princeton NJ, Doylestown PA, Fairfax VA, Arlington VA, Saint Paul MN, and now Carmel IN. We’re glad to be settled down now, but for several years we had become quite accustomed to being the new family on the block. And we’ve noticed how neighbors might eye us curiously – or even suspiciously – on moving day, perhaps trying to see if we have two heads, or really bizarre furnishings that we’re moving off the truck.

“The Word became flesh and made his home among us.”

As with my experience moving, or with the all-too-true Citi Bank credit card commercial that ran earlier this year, we too easily can be wary of the newcomer … even, and especially, when the newcomer is Jesus.

Jesus has made his home among us – this is Good News! Yet, how are we going to welcome him? Newcomers are unknown quantities, disrupting our status quo. They sometimes put up weird Christmas decorations, mow their lawn funny, or want to make too much conversation with you as they’re walking out to the curb in their bathrobe to pick up the morning paper.

And so we’re leery of this new neighbor. How will Jesus respond to our leeriness? Surely he wasn’t expecting a king’s welcome, but how will he handle our whispers, caution, and arms-length distance-keeping?

We begin reading through the Gospel of John this Sunday morning in worship. With daily devotional readings and Scripture readings in worship, we will read nearly the entire Gospel of John between now and Easter.  We will immerse ourselves in the story and read of humanity’s mixed welcome of our Lord Jesus, and of Jesus’ love and compassion even for those who reject him.

If Matthew and Luke surprise us with the story of God coming to us as a vulnerable infant, John surprises us with the poetic imagery of God’s very own Word (see Isaiah 55:10-11) coming to dwell with and renew humanity in flesh and blood. May that Word take flesh in us, and make its home in our hearts and our lives.

Start the New Year right, with Jesus 101: An Introduction to the Savior. This Six Week Preaching & Learning Series is a great way to renew your relationship with Jesus and grow in your understanding of our Savior. Considering making New Joy your faith home? Join us for Jesus 101 to prepare for our welcome of new partners in ministry on Sunday, February 11. Click the banner below for more information.

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