John 1:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 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.
What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text?
What delights me in this text?
What stories or memories of light or darkness do I remember?
What is God up to, or of whom is God speaking in this text?
This text is the one that we always read when we light the candles on Christmas Eve toward the end of the service. The ushers dim this lights, the musicians begin “Silent Night,” and the acolytes light their candles from the Christ Candle at the center of the Advent wreath and carefully make their way down the steps, spreading the lights from just a few tiny points to an entire congregation filled with light. It is a sensory experience; the sound of every voice raised in words that everyone knows, the smell of wax, the warmth of the heat from so many little lights, and the visual impact of the one made many, of a weak light made stronger and stronger as it spreads across the congregation.
And then, into that experience, there comes a pause. A moment of silence and anticipation before the pastor continues with more words, ancient words; “In the beginning was the Word…” Words that might be so familiar to you that you mouth them along with the pastor, a silent “Amen” to the speaking of those words out loud, again, one more time. Then comes another pause, and the music swells, and we finish “Silent Night” together. My favorite moment comes next. I have returned from the middle of the congregation back to the front, and I get to look out at all of the candlelit faces, full of joy, and peace, and anticipation (and a few terrified parents praying that their children won’t set us all on fire J), and I get to speak other words; Go in peace, your Light has come. The people respond, “Thanks be to God!” and are sent into a darkened world to bring light wherever God is sending them next.
As we prepare for this night, I invite you to invite the light of Christ into your preparations. Light candles. Tell stories. Set aside time for joy, and peace, and anticipation. Acknowledge the darkness of this world, and cling to the Light of Christ, the source of our life, and light, and being. If you need more assistance keeping Advent, visit our “Taking Worship Home” website at tri-saintsworship.weebly.com May the Light of Christ come to you, during this blessed season and always.