Today's Lectionary Text
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overtake it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Driving home from an errand excitement overtook me. It was only 10 days before Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is when the Unfathomable Mystery usually appears to me. God surely is present with me all the days and nights of the year, but on Christmas Eve God’s Ineffable Presence fills the world and my being in surprising ways. Driving to or from worship, Word that has always existed becomes clearly present in the world once more. At least the aura of God’s Presence would make itself clearly evident to me. No words are adequate to describe this Presence. It just is. Wow!
That is how it usually occurs for me on the day or night before Christmas. I wonder how it happens for my young friend, a family caregiver with a broken furnace. Does the indescribable Word become apparent to the family who has visited more than one food pantry during December in order to feed their children? In what unimagined ways is God’s presence made obvious to the young father and mother whose baby has just died in a NICU isolette, rather than being laid in a manger? On Christmas Eve does the Mystery make itself known in the midst of shells falling, penetrating unrelieved cold, and ever-present fear in Ukraine?
The Ineffable Presence is in all of those places. It just may not be obvious. The opening verses of the Gospel of John remind the world that God, the Word, becomes especially present in tough situations by being in the world in the flesh. During the days before big celebrations of Christmas happen other celebrations can occur. A smile at the other shoppers in the crowded grocery store conveys God’s mysterious presence. Holding the door for a young man laden with boxes and bags, and herding three young children, demonstrates to the world God in the flesh among us. Toting cereal boxes, peanut butter, pasta, and tuna fish cans to a food pantry or a blessing box clearly reminds the world that God cares so very much for God’s creatures and creation and came to this place to demonstrate that. Or, listening to a widowed and lonely neighbor tell about memorable Christmases works to make God’s presence clear. Writing a check to UMCOR for relief in Ukraine or disaster-stricken sites brings the Presence to people in many settings. The list is endless, but the Mystery is among us. As we race through these days let us be aware and let us pray unceasingly.
-- Rev. Dianne Tombaugh, retired email@example.com
Prayer for Reflection
Prayer: Holy Mystery, thank you for becoming flesh living here. Empower us to spread your Presence throughout the world today. Amen.
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