Isaiah 61: 10-62:3; Psalm 147; Galatians 3: 23-25, 4: 4-7; John 1: 1-18
THE REV. JAMES M.L. GRACE
In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road, which received the Pulitzer Prize some years ago, tells the story of a father and a son navigating their way through a dystopian American landscape. We are never told by the narrator what the source of the devastation was, though it was powerful, as America, and the reader assumes the entire world, is reduced to a state that rivals that of the pre-industrial revolution.
The father and the son navigate a bleak, dying, yet dangerous world, with what is left of their belongings, all of which fit into a grocery cart. In creative juxtaposition to this sinister world in which they live, Cormac McCarthy paints a touching and loving relationship between the boy and his father. The sincere warmth, tenderness, and love with which they care for one another and the father’s fierce devotion and protection of his son often would bring tears to my father.
The book is pregnant with theological allegory – early in the book the Father looks to his son, which is all he has in world in which everything else is seemingly hostile and dying, and says of his son: “If he is not the word of God then God never spoke.” As I read the book, I wondered to myself, was it a story of God the Father and God the Son, walking across America, searching for life, searching for a conscience, searching for hope?
Of course McCarthy is not the first to describe a son as God’s word. That language is already familiar to us from a source much earlier – the author of the Gospel of John. In this Gospel, Jesus is described to us as the perfect word that God spoke at the very beginning. Jesus has always been, and will always be. If he is not the word of God, then God never spoke.
As a father of three sons, I readily admit that these relationships of fathers and sons, whether in the Bible or in novels, have an appreciable effect on me. Remember that early in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, it is written that women and men were created in God’s own image. That means that even though we have parents, and even if we look like our parents, we are not created in their image, we are created in God’s image. We are not products of our parent’s words. All of us were created because God spoke.
Did you know that you are the word of God? Doesn’t matter who you are, what you wear, what you do – you are God’s creation, God’s word. And if you aren’t the word of God - then God never spoke.
Today is the fourth day of Christmas. Our calendar tells us that there are eight more days in the Christmas season (which means you all have eight more days of giving presents to Portia). I don’t believe that there are only eight days left. In fact I don’t believe Christmas ever stops, because God never stops proclaiming his Word. That’s you! That’s your child, your grand child, your partner, your wife, your husband. We are all God’s word.
It is because we are God’s word that we have great responsibility to make sure we incarnate it. Incarnation is a word that simply means to make something abstract, like God, physical, like you and me. That’s what Christmas is about: proclaiming and incarnating God’s word of love. In this month’s issue of the Voice, you all may have read about a new relationship St. Andrew’s is incarnating with Lord of The Streets, an Episcopal mission to the homeless in our city. They do wonderful work feeding and ministering to the neediest in our community, many of whom have little save for what they are able to push in a shopping cart.
Our Vestry has approved financial support of Lord of the Streets, but we will be doing more than just writing a check. We will incarnate God’s word by being physically present with them. We will help cook and serve food at their Sunday morning service a few times during the year. A parishioner will serve on their Bishop’s Committee. And we will get to know the people for whom that ministry exists to serve, and we will be blessed by them because we get to get our hands dirty doing the good work of loving our neighbors whose world is often bleak, dark, and dangerous. We will engage this work because the homeless in our city are also the word of God, and God has something to say to us. St. Andrew’s financial support of Lord of the Streets is a Christmas present, not to them, but to us. God’s word is alive, and you are what God is speaking now. Merry Christmas! AMEN.