I’m at work in the church study. It is eerily quiet on a day that would normally be abuzz – the rooms full of people going about their art and craft activities, sharing stories, encouraging, commiserating, inspiring.
This is an “in-between” time – a space of silence affording me time to do a little extra thinking and writing in between the shredding, re-organising and generally tidying things up. I’m looking at the passage set for January 3rd, the final Sunday of Christmas. It’s from the Gospel of John’s prologue and moves on from the piece I wrote on this blog yesterday – see it here.
John’s Christmas story is somewhat understated if one is looking for shepherds and angels and Bethlehem. “Understatement,” however, is hardly the word that comes to mind as one ponders the “Word (Reality, Wisdom, Ground of Being) become flesh” and dwelling amongst us.
“From his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” So John’s community reflects almost 100 years after the precipitating event. No trite piety here. The writer reflects a reality that is true to a community that has endured expulsion, persecution, and martyrdom that is familiar to many fleeing the Middle East today. “Fullness” and “grace” are words that still sprinkle the conversation of Orthodox Christians that have been forced from their ancient homelands.
It seems these “in-between” times are not just fallow paddocks where nothing much is happening. Beneath the soil is a lot of activity. “Fullness” and “grace” are being nurtured and are ready to flourish for those prepared to dig around and get their hands dirty.
This is where Christmas gets real!