J. Philp Newell, the Celtic theologian, has written a beautiful paraphrase of first chapter of the Gospel of John:
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 has not overcome it.
The Word was in the world,
and the world came into being through him,
yet the world did not know him.
So the Word became flesh and lived among us
and we have seen his glory,
like the glory of a newborn child,
full of grace and truth.
From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace.
No one has ever seen God,
Jesus the Son has made the Eternal Mystery known.
He is close to the heart of God.
He has shown us the light that enlightens every person
coming into the world.
Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us that in Jesus, the Word did become flesh and the intangible light, glory, grace and truth of God was embodied in Jesus. God, she says, put skin on those divine attributes and while the Word made flesh showed followers the way, the Word also made sure we understand that those of us who follow now embody God’s word just as Jesus embodied that Word.
Taylor also suggests that each of us has a word that we have a gift for bringing to life. For one person it might be compassion, for another justice, for someone else the word is generosity, for some it is simply love. These are words that are filled with meaning and possibility but until we act upon those words, until we bring those words to life…they will just remain abstract concepts. But the moment we act upon those words – these words become flesh and then, these words live among us so that we can see their glory.
In worship on Sunday, we were asked to consider what word our lives might embody – both individually and as a community of faith. So the assignment for this week is to think of your personal word. Taylor says it is sometimes hard to know your word so asking other people’s help in discovering that word may be helpful.
Communities of faith also bring words to life Taylor says, and so as after you have thought of your word, please think of three words that you believe National Avenue brings to life. You are invited to comment below to add your own words and words for National Avenue. Thursday morning, we will put all these words together in a Wordle and used for the front of our program for Epiphany Sunday.