Sunday, December 25, 2016

Make It Real: A Christmas Day Meditation

John 1:1-14
December 25, 2016
William G. Carter

I had an idea. Nothing came of it.
Not the first or last time that has happened!

It was a recurring idea. It kept coming back
I gave it some thought, wondered what to do with it,
even wrote down a step-by-step “to do” list.
But the idea stalled, sputtered, and stopped.
As ideas go, it never grew legs.

God had an idea
In God’s good humor, the Lord said, “Let there be . . .”
And you can fill in the blank:
Let there be light, let there be sky, let there be water, let there be acorns, let there be the platypus,
so on and so forth.
But on the sixth day of creation, God said, “Let there be us…”
Not me, not you – us.
“Us” signifies a community, a multiplicity of folks.
And “us” signifies a relationship between heaven and earth.

It is a relationship that has been strained many, many times, mostly by earth.
But Christmas means that God will establish this relationship, once and for all.
That’s the Big Idea.
Call it “the organizing principle,” “the rational center,” “the emotional heart of the matter.”
Call it what you want.
John, the Gospel writer, calls it “Logos”
Logos signifies Word, but more than word.
It is Intellectual concept, but more than concept.
True north, but aimed in all directions.
So let’s call it “the Idea.”  The Big Idea.

Where do you get your ideas?
Some of them come in dreams, as problems to be solved.
A few weeks ago, I was out with some musical friends,
playing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire.”
It is a deceptively tricky tune,
Or at least that’s what I said when I goofed it up.
That night I went to sleep and dreamed all the correct chord changes.
Why, the very Idea –
It was there all along, waiting to be found.

Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes they come as explosions of inspiration.
I can’t tell you how many sermons have come to me when I’m in the shower.
Put a squirt of shampoo on my hair and lather up,
And then – whew! – the whole thing emerges
from the hard work of reflection and study.
There I am, with nothing to write it down.

Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes they come from the hot cauldron of emotion.
Some event causes us to simmer and then boil, and a new idea bubbles up.
It’s probably an idea that needs to be tested and certainly should cool off.
Did you know that after President Abraham Lincoln died,
they found a trunk full of his unsent angry letters?
Lincoln wrote them when he was hot, then decided otherwise.
Some ideas are not worth pursuing.

Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes they come as you begin to develop skills,
And then you perceive possibilities.
So my wife was talking to a man who runs a woodshop.
She goes over on her lunch break and he shows her how to use some tools.
Whoosh, the Idea comes. In her case, it keeps coming.
So far she has made us a dining room table, a head board for the bed,
and a table behind the couch where she can stash balls of yarn.
She didn’t know she could do that, until she started.

Where does anybody get their ideas?
Where does God get the idea, the Big Idea,
the grand notion of heaven and earth being united?
The seeds of it were there from the beginning.
It became a problem to be solved.
The emotion that prompted it had to be reconciled with logic.

Most of all, the Notion has to become an Action.
For it’s no good for an Idea to remain a mere Idea.
It needs arms and legs and feet to move.
It needs a tongue to bless and correct and rejoice.
It needs a body to embrace.
And it needs to persist, so that even if the Idea is killed,
it will crawl up out of the grave and show you how alive it has always been.

And God’s Big Idea took flesh and lived among us. It must always take flesh.
As one poet says, “Clay is molded, stone is sculptured, words are written on a page, paint is splashed on a canvas, notes are penned on the music score.”
And to what end?
“Mozart’s music is performed and my spine tingles. I see the Mona Lisa and feel liberated. I read Les Miserables and Jean Valjean creates compassion in me. This is the Spirit – Jesus who lived becomes the living Christ.”[1]

So what’s the Big Idea?
That today, heaven and earth sing together, as it was intended from the beginning.
Christ is born, God is here.
Let the Word take flesh in us again!

(c) William G. Carter. All rights reserved.

[1] Kent Ira Groff, Active Spirituality (Alban Institute, 1994) 196.

No comments:

Post a Comment