December 17, 2017: Traditions - Words

Pastor Steve Mechem

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Luke 1:46-55 New Revised Standard Version(NRSV)
Mary’s Song of Praise

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

On Sundays, during this Advent season, we have been exploring Christmas traditions. Today we explore the tradition of words. Words reflecting the specialness of the season have been written, read, sung, spoken, and repeated for over two thousand years.

From the straightforwardness of St. Luke’s prose to the silliness of Shel Silverstein’s poetry, from Mary’s majestic soliloquy to the Grinch’s heart felt declaration of repentance, from Handel’s musical masterpiece to Joey Ramone’s punk genius, from the story telling of Truman Capote to the lyrical phrasing of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from the Polar Express to The Little Match Girl, words tell stories that create and reinforce traditions. Words inspire us to reflect and conspire with us to change.

There are so many phrases in the popular lexicon that are the direct result of writers and poets and lyricists as they fill the air with glorious words.

“Bah Humbug.”

“Joy to the World.”

“He see’s you when you’re sleeping.”

“God bless us, every one.”

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”

“What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store?”

“One can never have enough socks.”

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?”

“Peace on earth, good will to humanity.”

“Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

“And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.”

“Gold, Frankencinse, and Myrhh.”

“It came upon a Midnight clear.”

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger.”

From fact to fiction, from poem to novel to short story to scripture, from mediaeval dirge to classical orchestration to country music to punk rock, words create a tradition of joy and anticipation of the Advent Season.

Words unveil facts.

Words create new worlds.

Words build up.

Words challenge.

Words comfort.

Words conspire.

Words inspire.

Words transform.

Words are a way we express what is in our hearts, our minds, our σπλαγχναs.

The gospel of John, while ignoring any details of the Christmas story, shares a unique prelude to the incarnation. In a very Greek sounding, philosophical way, the writer writes of the Word, the λογος.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Everything came into being through the Word. What came into being through the Word was life, and the life was the light for all people.”

The Word, the expression of God, the articulation of God, the utterance of God is co-creator, partnering with the God-head, eternal, and transcendent, glorious, light and majesty.

And then, to our utmost surprise, the Scripture writer declares … “And the Word became flesh and made his home among us.”- literally, pitched his tent with us.

Eternal, yet earthbound.
Divine, yet human.
Creator, yet enfleshed in creation.

The Word,

Unveiling truest true portrait of God,

Creating a new kingdom based on unconditional love,

Building up people as beloved children of God,

Challenging the status quo,

Comforting the struggler and the straggler,

Conspiring to reveal the depths of God’s graciousness,

Inspiring men and women, boys and girls to choose lives lived for others,

Transforming … what is into what might be.

The Word became flesh.
We celebrate the Word, the expression of God, the One who became flesh.

And we celebrate the words of the season that bring hope and joy and inspiration.

May our words reflect Jesus the Word, the One who became flesh,

And may our words speak joy and hope to one another.