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Speaking to the Soul: The Poetic Core

Speaking to the Soul: The Poetic Core

Week of Last Epiphany, Year One

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

 

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 25 (morning) // 9, 15 (evening)

Deuteronomy 6:10-15

Hebrews 1:1-14

John 1:1-18

There’s an interesting theory about today’s gospel reading. Quite possibly, the author of John’s gospel crafted this passage by adding theological commentary and narrative material to what was originally a poem or hymn text familiar to Christians in his community. Several scholars have attempted to strip and condense today’s gospel passage into its basic poetic core.

Although scholars debate about which lines or phrases belong to the original poem, we can still reconstruct the simplest possible version. The result is a poem that is less confusing than the longer version of the gospel passage, and still worthy of our contemplation. Here is today’s gospel reading reduced to its poetic core:

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was 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.

He came to what was his own,

and his own people did not accept him.

But to all who received him,

he gave power to become children of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,

full of grace and truth.

From his fullness we have all received,

grace upon grace.

This short, poetic version of our gospel reading reminds us that behind all the complications and confusions of our world, there is a Word: a beautiful, illuminating, and profound Word . . . and that Word is the revelation of God in the love of Jesus Christ. Sometimes that love is hard to recover from the mess we’ve made of it, but it’s there at the core of creation, and always has been, and always will be.

Amen.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal.  She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps  program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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