Rev. Lyle McKenzie Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-12, John 1:1-14
I believe it is Anne Lamott, who tells a story of a member of the congregation where she belongs who when they first met, mumbled something that took some time to understand. What she mumbled coming into church sounded like, “I have to get my joice back.” Not sure if it was a relationship concern with “Joyce” and some estrangement or something else, Anne didn’t at first ask. But a few more times, and she couldn’t help but ask what “getting her joice back meant.” The woman said simply, “re-joice.” It was her wry humorous way of saying she need to “re-joice.” She came to church to re-joice.
Today is all about re-joicing – getting our “joice” or joy back, when it can at times seem depleted.
It’s all about joy. All the angels sing, and like the Psalm proclaims, all creation joins in singing a new song. The sea roars, the rivers clap their hands, the hills ring out with joy and with harp and voice and trumpets and horns and shouts of joy rejoice that “all the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” It’s all joy, it’s all about creation getting its joice back.
From mount Zion in Isaiah even the feet of messengers who bring good news are beautiful, who bring peace and announce salvation. The sentinels sing, everyone is to break forth together in singing that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Its all joy. Even our feet are beautiful, joining with everyone and everything getting their joice back.
And as the writer of Hebrews so lavishly tell us, although “long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days,” and especially today! “God has spoken to us by a Son” – “heir of all things,” “through whom God also created the worlds;” “the reflection of God’s glory;” “the exact imprint of God’s very being;” “he sustains all things by his powerful word;” “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;” “as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs:” “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’” It’s all pure joy. It’s joice back for all and everything in this God’s Holy one.
And what could be more glorious and joyful than the beginning of John’s Gospel; nothing like it in any of the other gospels, a hymnic prelude, like an overture to an opera or oratorio, placing the whole Gospel in cosmic context revealing what’s really happening throughout the gospel story in a way that philosophers, Stoics and Platonists would understand and appreciate, proclaiming the Word transcendent, – the immanent or divine rational principle, the Word eternal, the creative Word, there at the beginning and the ultimate reason that permeates the universe and gives it all meaning, without the Word, nothing would be, the Word is life, light, shining in the darkness and nothing can put it out! It’s all joy. Our Joice is back!
And then comes those few words, so few and familiar to us now that we may miss them in all our joy. We hear, “And the Word,” that glorious Word, “became flesh and lived among us.” The shock of that should hit us – like it would have hit the first hearers – like how it would have sent the philosophers shaking their heads in disbelief, even disgust at the prospect. The divine, the highest, the holiest, in human flesh, fragile, so less and lower than angels, the glorious Word in that, in this flesh, that’s just too great a scandal. Don’t do that God. The risk is that the same fragile vulnerability, the same death and destruction that is part of human flesh, would come to the holiest and highest good.
How could this be? And John answers – God answers, “and we have seen his glory” – glory in the flesh?; glory forever in this flesh of you and me?; So that even the flesh is forever glorified, forever holding the possibility of the divine Word surprise, “as of the Father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” That’s the greatest joy of all! God in the flesh in Jesus. This close, always. We can just pinch ourselves or each other to remember and its all joy again. Rejoice, Rejoice. Rejoice and