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. – John 1:1 & 14 (NRSV)
Matthew wants to convince you that Jesus is descended from Abraham, by way of a lot of interesting saints and scalawags. Luke goes further, all the way back to Adam. John, who always has to do The Most, goes (*cue movie voiceover voice*) all the way back … to the beginning of time.
Nothingness. Then a tiny point of light. Then galaxies whirling into the void, pink and purple clouds expanding beyond imagination, stars growing and exploding and disappearing as they hurtle along. And after an age—or a thousand—whatever it was that was there watching when there was nothing to watch begins to move toward one spinning blue dot. Faster and faster—warp speed, streaks of light, full plaid—until it gets to the earth, enters geosynchronous orbit, hears the words, “Let it be with me according to your word,” descends, enters.
John’s always so over the top. And why not? Just because it’s cinematic doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. And also: is this actually making any claims for Jesus that can’t be made of you? Don’t get me wrong. Elsewhere John absolutely makes claims for Jesus he wouldn’t make for you or me. But this part? About the power that was there at the beginning showing up on earth, climbing into a body made of history and the stuff of the universe? Is that actually different in any meaningful way from your own birth?
Some stories matter because they’re about unique people. Some stories matter because they’re about everybody.
For the utterly cosmic miracle that each one of us is, thank you.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.