Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Third Day of Christmas---Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist

Well, this is awkward. There are bits of Johannine literature that I find lovely, but much more of it is problematic, at least to me (and some other people). Add to the fact that I find no need to harmonize the various Johannine texts as being written by one individual (to me, it's fairly clear they're not, although they certainly are texts in conversation with each other, possibly from one community of early Christians), and I'm not sure what to do with this feast day. (Wikipedia has a pretty good overview of all this, for those who want to read up on it.)

It's also slightly humorous to me that John gets the third day of Christmas as his feast day, when we do not get a birth narrative from him, no angel choirs, no shepherds, no manger, nothing.

The Gospel of John is the most different of the four canonical gospels, and many scholars believe it to have the least relation to the historical Jesus.

And there's the whole thing with John constantly referring to "the Jews" as if Jesus and his first followers weren't Jewish, setting in motion a long and horrific history of antisemitism . . . well, here we are.

The Third Day of Christmas, the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist.

We still have the poetry and mystery of that fist chapter of John. "In the beginning was the Word . . . "

It is the most incarnational of the Gospels, emphasizing the embodiment of God among humanity, the God with us (even if it is Matthew's Gospel that uses the name Emmanuel, not John). And if John and I might have a lengthy and occasionally heated discussion about what that means for each of us, I do still find that fist chapter of John, the traditional reading for Christmas Eve in liturgical churches, to put me in another mind-space, a place of pondering the God who has lived, is living, and lives on with us.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."

How do we not catch our breath and hold out our hands for this promise?

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