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Sunday, December 24 | The Word became flesh

Editor's Note

About the author: Scott Shelton is ZPC's associate pastor of discipleship. He and his wife Claire have been at ZPC for 24 years! They have a son in college; a daughter, who is a high school senior; and twin sons, who are high school freshman.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Incarnation | John 1:1-14


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,[a] 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’s gospel is different from the other three. John really makes you think about the words he chooses and the way he says things (not that Matthew, Mark and Luke don’t, but John is just different!). John chapter one has become a passage that is read as an Advent reading, although that wasn’t John’s intent. John 1 touches on many themes that we remember at Christmas, like beginning, children, light, and God being with us.

John starts his gospel, “In the beginning…”  It sounds like Genesis 1,
right? Jesus was there at the beginning of it all, is that true? Yes. Jesus is God – the Christ – and with God - he is the Word – and is God.  He was there at creation! Jesus is also light. In a world full of darkness, even the dark night in Bethlehem, Jesus is light. Even in the darkness we see today in our world, where we long for a Savior from darkness, Jesus is light. He was the “true light coming into the world.”  (John 1:9) And just as Jesus was once a child, a babe, he gives us the right to become children of God, born of God. What do we have to do to be called children of God?  We simply have to receive him and believe in his name (John 1:12).

And at Christmas, we celebrate that God is with us – Emmanuel.  John says it again in a way that makes us think: “The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us.”  Wait – what?  Jesus is the ultimate Word – the spoken Word of God – who became a human – to be like us – to love us – to die for us – that we might live. When we have doubts, darkness, or despair – Jesus is light, hope, and love.  So read John 1:1-14 this week – and remember that Jesus is light, Jesus is the Word, and that God is with us – because Jesus is God!


We don’t actually open up the Bible and read like we used to do.  We might just look it up on our phone or tablet, or maybe just don’t read very much at all. This week, take time as an individual or with your family at breakfast or dinner or before bed, to open up a physical Bible and read John 1:1-14.  Say: Jesus is the Word, Jesus became flesh as a baby, Jesus is the light of the world, and Jesus is Savior. Which of these images of Jesus stands out most to you?


Thank you God that you speak to us. A long time ago, it was through your prophets like Isaiah or Moses, but most of all you speak through Jesus.  He is the living Word – who became flesh. Jesus, thank you for coming to the world that we might live because of your sacrifice.  Help us this month to reflect your light in some old way or new way, because you are the Light of the world, sent to the world to be God with us. 

In Jesus’ name we pray,


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It's opposite day

Opposite Day is an unofficial holiday that can be defined as a day when every action is modified so that its meaning is negated. In other words, someone says the opposite of what they mean. It can also mean just doing things backwards – or opposite. Have breakfast for dinner, for example. I like eggs and bacon and cinnamon toasts often for dinner – and not just on opposite day! I think that opposite day can also mean doing the exact opposite of what the world expects.

Going opposite of what the world expects is the norm with Jesus. With Jesus, it’s opposite day every day. Why is that? The world wants one thing and Jesus wants the opposite. The world often values success, comfort, entertainment and sports, and getting ahead. Jesus values getting behind, humility, putting others first, and not having worldly success. So it’s opposite day. Jesus has mysterious yet opposite sayings like these:

“Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” Luke 17:33.

“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:14.

“…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45

In the last saying in Mark’s gospel, Jesus is responding to James and John – two of his best friends and two of his disciples. They ask for the best places to sit in paradise with Jesus, on his right and his left. Basically they want to be exalted. Maybe they just want to be close to Jesus, which is a good thing. But they also want special treatment by Jesus over their fellow disciples – not a good thing. They want the best spots to sit. Jesus doesn’t say yes to them but tells them instead in order to be great they must be servants, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave - or last. Opposite day.

To save your life you must lose it. Jesus is saying if you want to keep things nice and cozy for yourself so be it. But to follow Jesus means to carry your own cross – each person has to give up or sacrifice something in order to truly follow Jesus. Opposite day.

Jesus criticizes the religious leaders. Jesus touches lepers and heals the hurting and wants a rich young man to sell his possessions to give to the poor. Opposite day.

Instead of coming as a king or military leader, Jesus comes as a humble baby born to poor teenagers. Instead of obeying all of the laws of the Pharisees, Jesus comes to fulfill the law. He fulfills the law and highlights loving God and loving neighbor over legalistic minutiae. Instead of overthrowing the Roman government, he allows himself to die – even die on a cross. Opposite day.

So as we end our Lenten season and draw near to Good Friday and Resurrection day, what will do with Jesus? We can be opposite like him. Sometimes I think we make our faith too complicated. The Bible can be hard to understand in places and faithful Christians differ on some of the non-essentials of our faith. Yet, we can agree we need to follow Jesus – and be opposite like him. So in that way, we can make it simple. As we remember and celebrate Jesus, we can be thankful for his grace for us. And in our thanks, we can live for him. We can put others before self; care for the poor and hurting; be humble instead of prideful; and pray to Jesus to ask him what crosses we should be carrying to be like him. We can be last instead of first, and serve instead of being served. I know I am far from perfect in my desire and my actions to be like Jesus. But the inspiration of Easter and the act of learning more about Jesus in the gospels can move me forward in my effort of being like Jesus. At Easter and all year, I want be opposite with Jesus. With Jesus, it’s opposite day every day. 

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