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Sermons

The Word

1/3/2016 Second Sunday of Christmas The text is  John 1:(1-9) 10-18.

Grace and peace to you from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  From the very beginning of the Gospel of John, there’s never a question of who Jesus is.  He is God’s living Word, made flesh.  He is the divine in human form.  John tells us.  The person and work of Jesus is presented to us as light and life.  For, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people … The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”.”  Whoever follows Jesus will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (8:12).

Put him in a situation and Jesus lets you know who he is and what he has come to do.  Put him in the desert surrounded by people who are chronically unsatisfied, and Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).  Put him in the midst of people who are confused, people who ask, “Who are you, Jesus? What makes you different from all the other gurus, rabbis, and religious leaders?” And Jesus says, “I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (10:7, 9). It is an act of self-definition.  Put him at graveside, in the midst of grief-stricken people, and Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live” (11:25). Put him in the midst of people who feel disconnected by life’s difficulties, and Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5).

To John, Jesus’ true identity is never in doubt.  In the Gospel of John we are never left questioning with the disciples, “Who is this that even the wind obeys him.”  We know who Jesus is.  We are told.  Jesus is God’s Word of life and light.  Jesus is the One who came to save.  Jesus is God’s abiding love.  He is the One sent to overcome the evil and chaos in the world.

If John’s Gospel were the only gospel we had, we would know nothing about angels and shepherds.  We would know nothing about a journey, a birth place and a mother named Mary.  What we would know about Jesus’ birth is this:

“before his name was Jesus, his name was the Word, and he was with God from the very beginning of creation, bringing things into being, making things happen, shining light into the darkness.

He is God’s self, God’s soul, God’s life force in the world. He is the breath inside all living things. He is the electric spark that charged peoples’ hearts. He is the fire inside the sun. He is the space between the stars. He is the axis around which the galaxies spin.

John goes on to say that not everyone got that message. Many were blinded by this light and preferred the darkness they knew to the light which they did not know. The Word sidled up to them and hummed life into their ears, but they cleared their throats and walked away. So God decided to speak in a new way. God decided to speak body language. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us — full of grace and truth.”

This is John’s Christmas story in a nutshell. Like Luke, John is telling us about an encounter with the Holy One. God’s Word was translated into a human being. God’s self, soul, and life force were concentrated into one mortal life on earth, and as a result, nothing would ever be the same again. Not because everyone listened, because everyone does not, but because the eternal Word of God took human form.”  Paul E. Flesner, Sermons for Sundays in Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, CSS Publishing Company.

In Jesus, God moves in. God pitches his fleshly tent in silence on straw, in a stable, under a star.  And through him, God’s voice can actually be heard coming from human vocal cords.  That’s the joy of Christmas.  God has come to be with us!  This is the miracle of all miracles – for who are we that God should love us so much that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth?

According to Thomas Long (Something Is about to Happen, CSS Publishing Company), when Christians proclaim these words of God’s abiding grace, “they do not mean that God is everything, but they do mean that God is in everything.  “In everything,” wrote Paul to the Romans, “God works for good with those who love him…” (Romans 8:28). The theologian Robert McAfee Brown likes to use in his writing the musical metaphor of themes and variations.  There are many musical compositions, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony for example, which begin with a clear, identifiable musical pattern, or theme. What follows in the music is a series of variations on this theme, the theme being repeated in ever more complex combinations. Sometimes the texture of these combinations is so complex that the theme is hidden, seemingly obscured by the competing and interlocking notes. But those who have heard the theme clearly stated at the beginning of the work can still make it out, can feel the music being organized by the theme. In Jesus Christ “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth ….” That’s the theme of all of life heard clearly by the ears of faith, and those who have heard that distinct theme can hear it being sounded wherever the music of life is being played, no matter how jangled are the false notes surrounding it.”

So, this is Christmas!  It is the music that plays in all circumstances of life.  It overpowers the dirges of funerals, the beating drums of war, the cries of disappointment and the silence of depression.  It is God’s great gift to us through faith.  It is the light of the world, infusing hope into darkness that surrounds human life.

So in all circumstances of life, let us rejoice and be glad – for this Christmas season.  Let us remember what God has done for us.  Let us be glad and rejoice for all Christmases to come.  And may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

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