Our church picked “Voices of Christmas” as the theme for this year’s Advent-through-Epiphany series of worship services. In Advent, we explored the voices of prophets, Mary, angels, and shepherds. For the second Sunday in Christmas, we will look at Anna and Simeon, and the following Sunday, in honor of Epiphany, the voices discussed will be those of the three wise men from the east. But for Christmas morning, the designated “voice” was that of baby Jesus.
I had prepared a children’s lesson to explore what Jesus-the-baby had to say to us, but no children of suitable age showed up this morning, all having had their Christmas church last night. However, as I listened to the pastor’s message about Jesus as light of the world and Word made flesh, I continued to ponder the concept of the “voice” of the infant Jesus.
Young children need concrete examples and stories. As I would have pointed out to the children, newborn babies don’t talk. They do communicate, but baby Jesus would have used his voice only for gurgles, chuckles and (despite the assertions of songs such as “Away in a Manger”) crying, not words.
And yet, the gospel of John starts out by calling this Jesus the Word of God. John makes quite a point of this Word becoming flesh, being born just as people are born.
Quick aside on the Greek word logos, translated here as “Word”: It is the root of the “-ology” ending that we use in English to denote “study of”: biology = study of life, sociology = study of societies, etc. Translated as word in the first chapter of John, it can in fact also refer to the larger concept of reality, an entire frame of reference. This gives an interesting insight into how the Greek philosophers thought. An early Greek Descartes might have said, I use words, therefore I am real. Or even, without words, how can we know reality?
But back to Christmas and the voice of the baby born in a stable. This baby, this enfleshed Word, newborn Reality, spoke of God’s boundless love for humans by the very fact of his birth as another human. By taking on our humanity, God could, in Jesus, gain our perspective and speak in words we humans might better understand.
As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. So even before Jesus grew old enough to speak his first word, his very birth spoke volumes about the lengths God would go to convince us that God’s love and forgiveness can be ours. Amazing love … our gift at Christmas, if only we remember to claim it.