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Sunday, January 01, 2012  

The Word Made Flesh

My Christmas Day column for The Daily:

In church on Christmas Day, Christians hear the famous passage that opens the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... and the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son.” Unfortunately, “lived” is a pretty domesticated translation of the original Greek verb, which means literally “pitched his tent.” I like to think of the verse, and of the birth of Jesus, that way: The Word pitched his tent with us. A tent, of course, is a portable dwelling. It’s for people who need to move around, people whose lives carry them from place to place. It’s not the image of a divine substance congealing in one particular home, but of the Word of God joining an itinerant humanity in our life of change and loss.

The Christmas reading is the classic text for what Christians call the doctrine of the Incarnation. In the time in which John wrote, people often speculated about a divine Word that shaped and animated the whole universe. The peculiar Christian move was to say that this Word became flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. This was a difficult and controversial idea at the time (as it still is today), but it’s at the heart of how I account for my faith.

posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 1:51 PM
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