OK. So, I warned you. Another week of the same Gospel reading at Church on Sunday morning and another post this week on St. John, his legacy and the gospel that bears his name. Buckle-up!
Reading this text again on the first Sunday after Christmas is a peculiarity of the Lectionary in what the Church calls “Year B.” Where both both Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels (the central texts for years A and C, respectively) contain additional Christmas-appropriate stories to fill the additional Sunday or two between Christmas and Epiphany, Mark does not. Actually, Mark contains no Christmas stories, beginning rather with Jesus’ Baptism. The Lectionary, therefore, turns to John to fill in the gaps as his Gospel does not get a lectionary year of its own. Only in liturgically rich environs like the Episcopal Church, were there is a high likelihood that service will be said on both Christmas Day and the Sunday after Christmas does this create our current redundancy.
But, here we are.
As a testament to the fact that, as fascinating as John’s “Hymn to the Logos” prelude to the Gospel is, there is not really two consecutive sermons worth of material in it, I will be preaching on the peculiar grammar of the passage this weekend. Sure, this is a pretty nerdy turn, and my congregation may have been better served by having a different preacher take their first cut at the text. But, again, here we are. The Sundays after major holidays are traditionally low-attendance and, given the fact that it is also New Year’s Eve, I figure I can’t do too much harm. Moreover, most folks could do with a little dose of grammar-theology from their nerdy priest. “Words matter,” and increasingly so, in these late and dangerous days. We like John, are often called to express our conviction about the meaning of the Gospel in words. We should pay close attention to the words, therefore, at least from time to time.