By Justin Rossow
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
That proclamation from the opening verses of John’s Gospel captures Christmas in a chestnut-shell. I love how The Message paraphrase puts it: “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.”
John doesn’t start with angels or shepherds; John doesn’t give us background on Mary or Joseph; read John all the way through and you will find no mention of mangers or magi. John takes us back to the very beginning, where the eternal Word was with God, and God was the Word; and then catapults us forward to the Word made flesh in Jesus, the light no darkness can overcome.
This Advent and Christmas season, we’ll be sitting with those opening verses of John’s Gospel as we prepare for the Word becoming flesh. The last several months at St. Luke have been focused on helping us engage more faithfully and fruitfully with Daily Word and Prayer. The Advent theme continues that trajectory. We want to live out the reality that Jesus, the Word made flesh, has moved into our neighborhoods.
In order to expand the possible ways of interacting with God’s Word, this Advent will also be an invitation to read through the Gospel of John, one chapter a day. Reading a chapter of John each day will get you through the whole Gospel if you start on the first Sunday in December and read through the 23rd.
Since September, we have been invited to sit with the same 10-12 verses of Scripture multiple times during a single week. The benefit of that meditative pattern is that we see something new in the same verses when we go back to them several days in a row.
Reading a chapter a day has a different benefit: you get to sense the sweep of the story a bit better and can more easily connect words or themes that run through the entire book.
As you read through John this Advent, look for some of the following unique features of the fourth Gospel. John structures his story around 7 “signs;” see if you can notice what they are and count all 7. The contrasts of light/darkness, life/death, and acceptance/rejection are also strong in John’s narrative. Common, everyday things like water or bread, or common acts like eating together at the dinner table are central to the way John tells the story.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke take primarily the same perspective of the Gospel narrative; John is painting the same picture but using a different medium. Some of the material only found in the Gospel of John are things like the conversation with Nicodemus (“For God so loved the world …”), changing water to wine at the Cana wedding, the Samaritan woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus, the foot-washing on Maundy Thursday, “I am the Vine,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” Jesus on the lakeside after the resurrection.
John knows and tells us that there is much more to the story than he could possibly share. “But these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you might have life in His name” (John 20:21).
That’s what this Advent season is all about: encountering the Word made flesh in our own lives again, as Jesus moves into our neighborhoods and workplaces, homes and schools. Read through John with your St. Luke family this Advent and see if His story gets you wondering, What’s Jesus been up to in my life?
Advent Worship Schedule
Sunday, Dec. 3 – Advent 1: “You Have My Word”, John 1:1-5
Wednesday, Dec. 6 – Advent Concert at 7 p.m. – Click Here to buy tickets
Sunday, Dec. 10 – Advent 2: “A Man Named John,” John 1:6-9,15
Wednesday, Dec. 13 – Evening Worship at 7 p.m., “Unique People in John”
Sunday, Dec. 17 – Advent 3: “Chosen Children,” John 1:12
Wednesday, Dec. 20 – Evening Worship at 7 p.m, “Unique Sayings in John”
Sunday, Christmas Eve: “We Have Seen His Glory,” John 1:14
NO MORNING WORSHIP
Worship at 5 & 7 p.m.
Monday, Christmas Day: “The Word Dwelt among Us,” John 1:14
Worship at 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, New Year’s Eve: “Our Times are in God’s Hands”
Worship at 9:45 a.m.