Christmas I, Year A, 2010

Listen to the sermon here.

Merry Christmas!

The last week or so we have been immersed in Matthew and Luke’s Christmas stories. We have heard the Angel Gabriel’s soothing words to Joseph.  We have journeyed with Mary and Joseph as they made the long journey to Bethlehem. We have seen children act out the famous scenes of shepherds and kings visiting the baby Jesus.

All week we’ve been soaking in the details of the birth of Jesus. We’ve experienced the exhaustion of Joseph and Mary as they attempted to find a place to sleep.  We’ve smelled the hay and the animals.  We’ve felt the chill of the night air as the shepherds were confronted with angels.  We’ve celebrated as the little baby was born.

Today, John’s Gospel widens the angle of our gaze.  We move from the details of Jesus’ birth to a cosmic understanding of who Jesus is and what he means for us.

John reminds us Jesus was not just a baby, but was the Word, co-eternal with God.  As long as God has existed—which is forever—the Word has existed.  John begins his Gospel with the words “In the beginning.”  These words evoke the very beginning of the Genesis, where we get the amazing imagery of a Creator God calling creation into being through the words he speaks.  The words were not simply language, but had the power to enact all of creation:  the ground under our feet, the pine trees we hang with garland, the moon, the stars, the solar systems beyond our imagination.

John makes the argument that Jesus is that Word and creation was called into being through him.  Jesus was there from the very beginning. Not as a human being, not as an infant, but as the Word, as God.   When we see Jesus, we see God.

In the incarnation, the worlds of the eternal and the temporal slam together.  The creator becomes the created, bringing all the light of the Holy with him.

Christmas lights pierce the darkness of winter with their tiny dots of light, turning a time of year that can be cold and dark and forbidding into something magical. These little lights remind us of the great light that pierced our darkness millennia ago.

Life can sometimes feel as dark as a late December day.  There is so much suffering, injustice and death in Creation and the way we have abused the Creation and each other.  When we are going through such suffering, we can feel utterly, hopelessly alone.

But, we’re not alone.  The Word entered that darkness.  He entered our dark world and immediately began shedding his light. He spent his life pursuing and loving people—especially those going through dark times.  He brought healing and new life with him wherever he went.

The Word that called Creation into being, also entered that same Creation in order to redeem it and make it holy.  Suddenly, everyday human experiences: birth, death, friendship, dinner become touched by God.  Bread and wine are no longer just food and drink, but at the Communion table hold the very presence of the divine.

Christ coming into our world transformed the world.  Now, our ordinary lives are infused with holiness and meaning.  In our dark days, we experience the light of Christ through our prayers, through the love of fellow Christians.  When we experience that light, we too become light bearers, Christ bearers into the darkness.

And so, this Christmas season, we celebrate.  We lift our voices in song, we dress up our children in costumes and watch them re-enact the ordinary, extraordinary birth of Christ.  We listen to brass and tympani clang out the good news that Christ has come.  The whole of God has entered our world as a tiny baby and transformed our lives for ever.

Thanks be to God.

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