Word, wordless

A brief message for Christmas Day

If, like me, you have memories from long before you learned how to talk, then you know that even before it speaks an infant tells itself stories and lays them down, woven into the foundations of who it is to become.

The Gospel of John tells the Christmas story in a new way, not with angels or shepherds, nor even Mary and Joseph. There is no manger; there is only the Word of God, come into a world that doesn’t understand it, yet speaking unceasingly of light, of life, of God.

Here, in the Christ-child, the Word has become wordless: an infant without language, whose knowledge of the world is brand new and ever-expanding. Yet this is the Word of God, beyond our comprehension, who called all things into being, with the unfathomable eyes of an infant whom we are only just beginning to hear, to heed, to understand.

Still, there is much to confuse and bewilder us. There are prayers that we have no words for, aches that we have no name for, love that leaves us speechless. We are, especially in a season such as this one, like infants, reaching toward God from the heart of our being; and like a faithful mother, God reaches back, holds us close, even sings to us, whether or not we understand the words.

The Word of God has become a wordless infant, and in that very Incarnation is the message that speaks volumes, that tells the story of God’s love for the world, God’s love for the people God has created, God’s love for you.

Not even the words of the angels: Do not be afraid, come close. But do not be afraid. The Word of God has been spoken into the world, the light of Christ has been born into the world, the love of God has been let loose, the glory as of a father’s only son, as of a mother’s only child, full of grace and truth.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us: Emmanuel. God is with us.


About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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