Christmas, as I’m sure you know, is, for Christians, a celebration of the birth of Jesus. He was born a helpless baby, in poverty, on the road, and threatened by an evil empire. Next Tuesday we will celebrate Epiphany, the day when the Wise Ones arrived with gifts and named Jesus as King. This is the story that we tell of the person, Jesus. This is the origin story of our faith. The story of Jesus, the man, is a story that might guide us, might provide a story by which we measure our own stories, a story to live into. But there are other stories. This week, the lectionary takes an interesting turn, interrupting the Christmas story of the little baby Jesus to tell us a couple of other stories.
The most familiar of these is the prologue to the Gospel of John (John 1.1-18). It is frequently said that the Gospel of John is the “spiritual gospel” because of its lofty language. It begins by locating the story of Jesus at the beginning of time. It imagines Jesus as God’s Word, spoken into a void that becomes the world. The prologue identifies the story of Jesus with the story of the beginning of the world found in Genesis 1. This was not the first time that creation story had been carried forward into a new context with new characters.
The less familiar of our passages this week, Sirach 24.1-12 and Wisdom of Solomon 10.15-21, speak of another person in strikingly similar terms. Wisdom, or Sophia, is both personified and spiritualized in these texts. Like the Word, she comes forth from the mouth of God. Like the Word, she existed before time, in the beginning. Like the Word, she came to dwell with the people of God. She is a way, a guide, a light in the dark. However, unlike the Word, Wisdom took root in her people and they became great.
Each of these is a way of telling the story of God and the world. Their differences are as notable as their similarities because each frames the ways that we understand what the world is, what ultimate reality is, and the ways that we relate to them. Thus, each has its own promise and peril. It is a blessing that all of these – and so many more! – are a part of our tradition, providing so many ways to navigate the seasons of our lives.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Church in the Cliff, as we talk about how we talk about God and what difference it really makes.
Grace & Peace,