In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of 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, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. John 1:1-18
About this week’s prompts for Meditation
The Word made flesh enters the wedding chamber of our hearts (Meditation One) and this indwelling urges us to deeper intimacy (Meditation Two) and love in action (Meditation Three).
May this Feast of Light fill you with grace upon grace. -Suzanne
Meditation One (Introit)
The Bridal Chamber of Our Hearts
While all things were in quiet silence, and that night was in the midst of her swift course, your almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down out of your royal throne, alleluia.
Antiphon on Benedictus, Christmas Day
He has left the heavens and descended, let us make holy for Him the bridal chamber of our hearts.
The Heavenly Bridegroom … has come down and invited all,
And I too have been invited to enter His pure wedding feast.
The soul is Your bride, the body Your bridal chamber,
Your guests are the senses and the thoughts.
And if a single body is a wedding feast for you,
How great is Your banquet for the whole Church.
-Ephrem 306-373 (Hymns on Faith, S. Brock, Luminous Eye) quoted by Rita Nakashima Brock & Rebecca Ann Parker, Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire
Cupola of Genesis, Italian Mosaic Artist, c.1210, San Marco, Venice
In the beginning a silent soundscape,
a procession of absolute stillness,
unfolding spheres of mystery
from veiled unknowable
to startling specific,
the Word descends
grace upon grace,
deep rooted love within love.
And so, heaven and earth unite in the Word made flesh dwelling among us.Not then, not now, not once.But evermore.
Creation and Expulsion From Paradise, Giovanni De Paolo, c.1445, Detail
Meditation Two (Insight)
Yesterday at dawn, my Friend said, How long
Will this unconsciousness go on?
You fill yourself with the sharp pain of Love,
rather than its fulfillment.
I said, “But I can’t get to You!
You are the whole dark night,
and I am a single candle.
My life is upside-down
because of You!”
The Friend replied, I am your deepest being.
Quit talking about wanting Me!
I said, “Then what is this
The Friend, Does a drop
Stay still in the Ocean?
Move with the Entirety, and with the tiniest particular:
Be the moisture in an oyster that helps to form one pearl.
-Rumi Like This: 43 Odes, Versions by Coleman Barks
Meditation Three (Integration)
The Smallest Actions of Our Life
As the sun illumines not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea, but also sends rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, behold the smallest actions of our life.
-Clement of Alexandria c.150-215
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, O past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem star may lead me
To the sight of him who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and always:
Now begin, on Christmas Day.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins 1844-89
The Last Word
In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am.
-Gerard Manley Hopkins1844-1889
Here are two collects (collecting prayers) from the American Book of Common Prayer. The first is from the Sarum mass for Christmas day, which in turn comes from the Mass at St. Anastasia from the Gregorian sacramentary (10th century). The second comes from the Leonine sacramentary (1735 with older material in it).
First Sunday after Christmas Day
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.
Second Sunday after Christmas Day
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.