2nd Sunday after Christmas

by Crossings

John 1:1-18
2nd Sunday After Christmas
analysis by Ed Schroeder

I’m slotted to preach tomorrow. Since my outline is on the computer screen I’ll paste it on below. Here at the outset are a few thoughts about Sunday, January 12. 
Peace & Joy! Ed

Sunday a week hence, Jan. 12, is the Baptism of Jesus, First Sunday after the Epiphany. The day’s Gospel is Mark 1:4-11. We examined verses 4-8 (Mark’s telescoped pericope about the Baptizer) in the Crossings matrix for Advent II, Sabbatheology #40 (Nov. 30,’96). I think I’d mostly stick with the diagnostic elements of that matrix for Jan. 12, and then use the specs of Mark’s report of Jesus’ baptism (also telescoped) for new rhetoric and images for the Prognosis triad.

The Revised Common Lectionary gives us Gen. 1:1-5 as the day’s OT reading. I don’t find that theologically very helpful here. I wish the experts had left us what we always had before for this festival day, namely, the first Suffering Servant poem of Isaiah. This Isaiah 42:1ff. text must’ve been in Mark’s mind as he tells of Jesus’ baptism. Genesis 1:1-5 surely was not. The second lesson appointed for the day is not much of a resource. It is about baptism, but not about Jesus’ baptism. When we had Isaiah 42 as part of the pericopic pantry, the Crossings prognosis triad took this form:

P-1: The Servant Son who pleases God.
Why? He brings “mercy-justice” to captives in place of the “equity-justice” God is giving them and in place of the excesses of “in-equitable injustice” in their Babylonian experience. To be such a servant, he is a suffering servant.

P-2 “Behold my servant.”
Look to this one. That’s faith. “To behold him is to be held by him,” says Bob Bertram.

P-3 Lives lived “beholding”
this one and not others. Followers of the Ochlos-Messiah, look, act, and associate as did their leader.

Sermon for
Trinity Lutheran Church
Alton, IL
January 5, 1997
Second Sunday After Christmas

Sunday’s Gospel is John 1:1-18

INTRODUCTION: These words are St. John’s Christmas story. Not what we’re accustomed to: no shepherds, no manger, not even Mary and Joseph, not even a baby in the manger.

John’s Christmas story invites us to look behind the manger set, to find out what’s really going on. And if we take his lead what do we see? More kids behind the manger set than the one in the manger. John’s Christmas is about children, but not just one.

The one child who did arrive at Christmas is nevertheless the main character, God’s “mono-genes” (Greek term used 2x in this text). The only one with such “genes.” How special a child is this one? For starters, he “sits on God the Father’s lap.” Makes him qualitatively different from other revealers, the Baptizer for sure, and even Moses.

But there are more children in John’s Christmas story–right behind the manger set. Read v. 12. These extra kids are us.

DIAGNOSIS-1 Our Problem: Orphans

As the story starts, we aren’t God’s kids–even though we ought to be, since we were “God’s own” in the original plan, the original world. But if we’re not God’s kids as the story starts, then whose? We’re kids whose lives are generated by other “genes.” “Born of blood, will of flesh, will of a man,” the text says. Heree’s a list of the concrete contours of such orphaned lives all around us–and also in us.

DIAGNOSIS-2 Worse than that:

Lifeless, Lightless The Moses-component in these alternate genes that generate orphaned lives is that they can never restore God’s genes to the orphans. Cannot restore lightless, lifeless folks to light & life. All such “fathers” call on us to “do something” to fix our genetic deficit.. But what can a corpse do to fix its lifelessness? What can a burned-out light bulb do to “fix” its own darkness?

DIAGNOSIS-3 Worst of all: Disinherited.

Missing out on the inheritance which we were originally “birthed for.” Not only to be God’s own kids, but to enjoy all the perks thereunto appertaining. E.g., enjoying God’s “own” world as our own world.

Good News: The mono-genes Son leaves his privileged spot (Daddy’s lap) to bring us back into the family. But that isn’t going to be easy. It’s “costly grace and truth.”


Word becomes flesh, our flesh. Full of Grace & Truth (phrase 2x in this text). Beats Moses and all alternate Law-fathers. But enfleshment entails all that “flesh is heir to,” of which he takes willing ownership. So “like the brass serpent,” he will be lifted up, “like a seed” he will be planted. As Thomas finally learned (chap. 20), the death-scars will be the trademarks of his grace and truth, and the touchmarks of our believing.


Believing him, we get the “right,” get “authorization,” (=a better translation of the Greek word “exousia” in v. 12 than “power”) to be God’s kids again. Birthed with the same “genes” as the Lap-favorite. See John’s concluding verse in 20:31.


Witnessing about our connections, not to put others down, but “so that all might believe through us,” might get to be God’s kids again, get the same genes once more, and thus the same adoption, and the same inheritance. What that could look like in Alton, Illinois


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