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"there has only ever been one perfect man, the Lord Jesus, and we killed him. I only missed a putt."

Berhard Langer on the 1991 Ryder Cup

Christmas 2010

The word became flesh and made his dwelling with us John 1:14

A few years ago Bishop Tom Wright started his Christmas Day cathedral sermon by mischievously asking the congregation where you would find a wedding in John’s gospel. John 2, Cana in Galilee was the obvious answer. The Bishop suggested John1!

John 1 is traditionally read on Christmas Day in many churches because of its “central and earth shattering announcement”. Is there a better four word summary of the Christmas story than “The word became flesh”? And let us spell that out in everyday language. God became man.

Wright continues that the prologue (1:1-18) is an essential part of John’s gospel because without it, we cannot understand the rest of the book. “Part of the whole point of John’s Gospel is that when the Word made Flesh accomplishes his work of glory, love and passion, he pours out his own Spirit on his followers so that they too can become Words-become-Flesh”.

The fact that God became man lies at the heart of Christian faith and mission, that God poured his very self into human flesh. Wright says that it is as if the playwright has had to come on to the stage and take the leading part as no one else could play it.

Verse 12 includes another startling truth “To all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. This reminds us that Christmas is not just a story but Jesus. It is about us too. “Christmas isn’t a spectator sport. It’s an invitation. And, yes, it’s a wedding invitation”. It is an invitation to the marriage of grace and truth, the marriage of heaven and earth.

I hope that you will accept the invitation.

Based on a sermon by Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, 25 December 2006

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