Soul Proclamations: Being and Belonging

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John 1:1–18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Meditation for Sunday December 27, by Christine McSpadden

Conversations about religion held in diverse and pluralistic settings often focus on the commonalities between faith traditions. But highlighting the similarities often tempts a reductive downplaying of real differences. I often hear the statement that all religions are really saying the same thing at their core. But different faith traditions actually do embody very different conceptions of God, of the human condition, and of salvation. Various faith traditions proscribe their characteristic paths as they journey toward the consummation of their particular conception of salvation. And those conceptions of salvation, those distinct salvations, can vary markedly.

Christianity’s path, for instance, implores particular commitments and devotion to a singular savior. Mary cries out in the Magnificat: “My spirit rejoices in God my savior,” placing her personal faith and trust in the great I AM who was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. She stakes her life in the triune Blessed One of Israel, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit who is known in sacred scripture, in the breaking of bread, in the faithful people of God gathered, and in the midst of the lowly being lifted up.

In song, Mary’s explosive joy as the bearer of that same Holy One in the flesh catches us up in its fidelity to the living God who ever seeks relationship with us—a God whose very constitutive essence is relationship and who is the source and ground of all relationship.

And in engaging that relationship, we open ourselves to the fulfillment of our mortality and to the willingness to be wholly transfigured and continually changed. Choosing to follow in the way of Christ, and accepting him as Lord and savior, we pledge ourselves to belonging to a particular way of being.

The Rev. Christine McSpadden, a graduate of the University of Virginia and Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, has served in congregations from New York City to San Francisco. She currently lives in London where she is a member of the clergy team at St. Paul’s Cathedral. She has written several times for Forward Movement, including as an author of meditations for Forward Day by Day. She and her husband have two children.

Soul Proclamations: Singing the Magnificat with Mary is a new collection of daily meditations for the Advent season. Authors include broadcast journalist Ray Suarez; Christopher Wells, editor of The Living Church; Kate Moorehead, dean of St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral; Thomas E. Breidenthal, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio; and Christine McSpadden of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The book invites you to share Mary’s journey through the Advent and Christmas seasons. To walk with Mary each day this Advent, order a copy of the full volume of Soul Proclamations ($5).