Sermon for Christmas Day, 2011
Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace…especially peace…on this day of our Savior’s birth. Amen.
Well, the time has finally arrived. Our days of watching and waiting and preparing are finally over, and today the celebration begins. If it’s not purchased or packed or wrapped or baked or decorated or hemmed or mailed by now, it’s probably not going to be, so give it a rest. Set the details aside this morning and rejoice, as we gather to consider the event that changed the course of human history forever.
The miracle of Christmas is here. Christ is born. And my prayer this morning is that Jesus will be born in us, and live in us, and be our reason for living, and loving and caring and giving every day of our lives.
Our gospel lesson this morning is the prologue to the Gospel of John. It is the traditional lesson for Christmas Day. We read the second chapter of Luke on Christmas Eve. It is the traditional story of the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem with the angels and the shepherds.
In today’s gospel, John calls Jesus the word of God. This is the way he introduces his book of faith. John wants us to be clear in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the word of God. This word is the life and light of the world.
In the beginning of the book of Genesis, God speaks and the world is created. The Word of God is the active force of life in creation, causing everything to come into being.
God says, “Let there be…” and there is light, the heavens and the earth, and people – made in the image of God, and all that is, seen and unseen. The word is inseparable from God. The word is God.
Today, however, God is doing a new thing. Up until Christmas, no one had seen God. A few had been privileged to hear God. God has spoken to the prophets in many and various ways. Moses heard God in the burning bush. Elijah looked for God in the earthquake, wind, and fire, but God came in a still, small voice. The people of Israel knew that no one could look upon God and live.
Today, however, God is doing a new thing. The word of God becomes flesh, a human being like us; that we can see and touch and talk with. We know the story so well; we need to hear again how radical the incarnation really is.
We know how messy and painful and irritating human life can be. We know brokenness and sorrow and heartaches. It seems that especially in this time of the year when the cultural expectations are the highest that we have the most stress, and problems are most evident. This is the time of year when society is telling us how good it is to be with our families and how much joy the holidays bring us.
However, this is also the time of year when we are most aware that we don’t all have close families and that all of us have family members with problems. Getting together over the holidays and exchanging gifts tends to bring out both the best and worst in people and remind us of every sibling rivalry and childhood resentment. Human relationships even within the family of the church can be messy and painful and irritating.
God knows all of this about us. People have been sinful and life has been painful since the fall of Adam and Eve. God knew what Jesus would have to endure.
Today, however, God is doing a new thing. The word of God became flesh like us in spite of knowing how things were going to turn out and how much he would have to suffer.
Almighty God, the One and Only creator of the universe and all that exists, stoops so low as to become enfleshed with skin and bones and blood and sweat and all the messiness that is a human baby. The one true God gives up being all powerful, all knowing, all seeing for the length of a human lifetime and becomes one of us in every way.
Because of Christmas, John tells us we have received grace upon grace. God loves us enough to stoop to our level so that we could see and understand how much we are loved. Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, understands everything about being a human and living in this world. He knows what our problems and weaknesses are. He understands the stresses we have in our lives.
Jesus knows that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. He comes to free us. God is doing a new thing today. The word became flesh and lived among us. We are now privileged to see the word of God and to know how much he loves us.
Today, God is doing a new thing. The word of God is the life and light of the world. The light comes to us in the person of Jesus. The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.
Jesus Christ can overcome all darkness. Jesus Christ can also overcome the commercial blinking lights and cultural distractions of the season too. The light of Christ outshines all of the distractions as well as all of the darkness. The light of Christ can overcome all of the darkness and distractions in our lives as well. Thanks be to God.
This is what we celebrate this Christmas day.
May Jesus be born in us, and live in us,
and may he be our reason for living, and loving and caring and giving
every day of our lives.
Merry Christmas. May Christ be born in you. Amen.