Sunday, December 30, 2018

Christmas 1-C, 2018: Tabernacles of God

Lectionary: Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Psalm 147; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18

(Note: if the above player doesn't work on your device, click HERE for an alternative audio format.)

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, Y Esiritu Santo. Amen.

I begin today with the Prologue of John, that most beautiful and familiar scripture, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." and I want to read to you a translation that I've done directly from the Greek. It's not different from what we read in Scripture, though it will sound a little bit different because in Greek there are layers of meaning; so where the Scripture chooses a single word, I'll offer a couple of words which fill out the intended meaning.

1. In the state of beginning, a living voice (a conception/an idea) happens and this living voice (this conception/idea) is God; and the living voice (the conception/idea) exists for the advantage of God.

2. This existence was in the beginning with regard to God.

3. Everyone individually and all things begin to be, to appear in history through him (on account of him) and without him not even one thing begins to be or comes to pass.

4. Every living soul who begins to be and all that comes to pass through him is the absolute fullness of life and apart from him no one comes into being and not one thing comes to pass.

5. Indeed, this truth shed light on the darkness (which was due to an ignorance of divine things) and the darkness (the ignorance) did not take possession of it.

6. A human being came into existence, sent from God, and his name was John.

7. He came to tell people about future events; and he knows these things because he was taught by divine revelation about the true and sincere light in order that those who hear him, each one individually and everyone might be persuaded and have confidence in him.

8. He is not the true and sincere light, but he exists in order to be a witness, to implore people on account of the true and sincere light.

9. The true and sincere light is present among human beings and is the one who makes saving knowledge clear to each one, to everyone, and to all things. This true and sincere one comes into the harmonious order (the world) for human beings.

10. He is present in the harmonious order (the world), and through him the world happens but the world did not learn to know or understand him.

11. He arrives to what belongs to him, and what belongs to him does not accept him (it does not allow him to join them to himself).

12. But as for those who take hold of his hand, who are persuaded about his true name and everything that that means, to them he gives the gift of the power of choice, the freedom to begin being children of God;

13. children who are born of his blood (his seat of life) not from human action; children who are brought over to his way of life by God.

14. And the living voice (conception/idea) began to be flesh and lived for a while among us; and we look upon him with attention, we contemplate and admire him.

15. John affirms what he knows by divine revelation and cries out in a loud voice saying, “This one exists, and his existence affirms what was said: that the one who comes after me is the one who is first in time and place and rank.”

16. Because he himself is the fulfillment, we (each one individually, and everyone as a whole) take a hold of goodwill and carry loving-kindness because of his grace…

In most Episcopal churches, there's something called an “aumbry” as we have, or a "tabernacle" which is a portable version of an aumbry. A tabernacle is usually large, ornate, and sits on a table under the sanctuary lamp, which is lit whenever there is reserved sacrament in it.

I tell you this because there is a reason we have those. As John’s gospel tells us , the Word of God, the true light, ‘tabernacled’ among us. The word translates from Hebrew as, "he pitched his tent," and it means he chose to live among us. The tabernacle in the church, therefore, is a manifest, symbolic form of the theological concept of the Incarnation of Christ.

The prophet Isaiah says we are clothed in the garments of salvation, and then describes something very beautiful and jeweled - which is the origin of the idea for constructing a box to hold the consecrated elements. It's beautiful - decked out with garlands and jewels – and that’s how we can see ourselves. It’s how God sees us – all of us.

We are the crown of beauty in the hand of God; beautiful, bejeweled tabernacles of God here on the earth. We are adorned and adored by God who created us and sustains us by infusing us with God’s own spirit.

As our gospel reminds us, we carry the divine spirit within us. And if we are willing to use the power God has chosen to give us, then what can stop the transformation of the world by God through us?

My beloved Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “When you know how much God is in love with you then you can only live your life radiating that love.” (Meditations from a Simple Path, Ballantine Books, NY, 1996, 53.)

This is exactly what we prayed in our Collect today. As tabernacles of God, let’s pray it again now together…. Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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