Christmas Day 2017

John 1:1-14

A few weeks ago our office assistant, Debby, came to my office and asked if she could take Gabrielle shopping after work with her granddaughter, Alyssa, to buy a dress for Christmas.  With no meeting that night, thinking it would be fun to go along, that evening, the four of us, along with Debby’s husband, Carl, whom Gabrielle affectionately calls “grandpa”, piled in their SUV, and made our way to the Hanover mall to buy Christmas dresses for these two young girls.

After trying on numerous selections and picking the perfect ones, as Debby and Carl made their way over to the register to check out, I walked the two girls down the hallway to Santa’s cabin.

In seeing Santa… shaking with excitement, yet a bit apprehensive, Gabrielle made her way over to sit on his lap with just a little bit of coaxing from older Alyssa. Santa looking down at her, the two exchanged a few words, smiled for a picture to be taken, and we made our way off to dinner.

The next morning, as Gabrielle watched her “wake up show” and ate her breakfast, I asked her what she told Santa Clause she wanted for Christmas… Her response? A mermaid costume, which of course she opened from Santa this morning… and her mommy… the gift which all the Christmas magic in the world, not even Santa could deliver…

Throughout this Advent season, here at St. James, we have centered our worship services around the theme, “Prepare the way: the path from crooked to straight”.

In our Wednesday evening services, we have heard our fellow members of this family of faith share their own stories of how God has prepared the way for them… guiding them through the twists and turns of life… making their crooked paths straight… walking with them through the course of lifelong relationships, the loss of loved ones, and family divisions… all tremendous tests of faith…

Week after week, Pastor Mike and myself, alongside of pastors across the world look to the Word of God, these ancients scriptures, seeking to find a message that speaks to the people in our pews.  We read the assigned texts for the day over and over, look to the commentaries, and reflect on what is happening within the world, our community, and in the lives of our people, hoping that somehow the inspired Word of God sent to us centuries ago would in some way, shine light into the darkness that too often surrounds us… As Pastor Mike prayed in his sermon last night, would “poke holes” in the darkness…

As we read from the first fourteen verses of the Gospel of John on this morning of our Saviors birth, our Gospel writer offers us words of assurance, that not only is this possible… that the Word would bring us light… but it is promised…

The Word Became Flesh

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.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 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.

      

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through him. 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. 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.

 

Prepare the way; the path from crooked to straight.

While our other gospels begin with descriptions of Jesus’ coming into the world through means of his human birth, these words from the Gospel of John offer us a description quite different…

They give us a description of Christ’s coming that goes back to the beginning of life… That through the Word of God, Christ has been a work in the world long before his human birth took place… Before God formed the heavens and the earth, and separated the waters from the dry land… Before creatures big and small came into being… Before the Garden and the fall… Before the prophet Isaiah spoke of a child born, a son given… the angel guided the shepherds to Bethlehem, and the star did the same for the Wise Men… Before John the Baptist prepared the way, baptizing with water for the repentance of sins… And too, long after these events as well…

“To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right 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.”

Through John’s Christmas story, the gift made true through the birth of Christ moves from the manger on that O’ Holy Night… and into the lives of all believer’s across time and space… into our lives at this very moment…

That even today, thousands of years following his birth, He can be experienced in real and visible ways through God’s Word and in the faces of the faithful… in you, and in me…

That his grace and truth can bring hope into those moments that appear to be hopeless… that his light would shine into the darkness of our lives… that his light would shine into the darkness of your lives, whatever it may be, trusting that the darkness will not overcome it… that the world would come to know Him and believe in His name, be marked as children of God, and experience his glory… that a father could look to his little girl with confidence, trusting in His promise, that while Santa can’t give her her mommy for Christmas… that through such, even death is not the end…

This is the Good News for each of us this day… That we have a God who is forever and always present in our lives…

One who would give us the Word, that His light would scatter the darkness around us and live within us, that we would become children of God… One who would send the Son to be born of the flesh into a world broken and burdened, and to die on a cross in order to save it…

May you come to know the power of this glory and experience its’ gift on this Christmas morn… May the Word dwell within you and fill you with the light of life. For as Christ was born, wrapped in bands of clothe, and laid in a manger… so too is he born in you… The gift for which we offer our endless thanks and praise…

Amen.

~Pastor Andrew Geib

 

 

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