Please read John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.
The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world.
The light was in the world,
and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
The light came to his own people,
and his own people didn’t welcome him.
But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
born not from blood,
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
John begins his version of the Gospel with a hope-giving message of a light that cannot be overcome. He wrote during the time of a despot ruler. His message surely resonated with his original audience who would have recognized his references to the story of Creation when God spoke light and life into being. And John goes on to make the bold claim that the Word became flesh and made his home among us. I like the image from Eugene Peterson’s The Message that God “moved into the neighborhood.”
But make no mistake—the Baby Jesus whose birth we celebrate today, who moved into the neighborhood, holds the same power as the God of Creation. This Christmas morning, we might prefer to focus on the meek and mild baby in a manger. But John presents us with the bold claim that this baby was with God before creation. His claim is only audacious if it is not true. Early Christians argued about whether Jesus was the same as God or merely similar to God. Believing, trinitarian Christians bet our eternal lives on the truth of John’s claim.
John’s message resonates with us in 2020. We long to hear a hope-filled message. This time will be remembered in history for political disunity, discord, racial tension, and a pandemic that has killed over 1.4 million persons worldwide. 2020—the year we couldn’t even gather together in church. Wouldn’t a shining light be welcomed in these days? Honestly, I’d like to see God-in-flesh come in this Christmas and shine a light that would unite our nation and church, bring about justice for all, and wipe out COVID 19 and all disease. Quickly.
I would be in good company. The original disciples who followed Jesus were frustrated that he did not act to overthrow the Roman empire to bring about their image of the Kingdom of God. John says the people did not welcome the light.
Perhaps Jesus has shown us the way as a light shining in the wilderness through the troubles of this life but we choose not to be enlightened, preferring our own tried and failed methods. A good question for us to ponder this Christmas is how we will welcome the light of Christ this year and in the future.
Rev. Jeff Taylor