December 25, 2010: Christmas Day

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE WORD MADE FLESH, THE TRUE LIGHT THAT NOW HAS COME INTO THIS WORLD!

TEXT: John 1: 1-14

Fellow Redeemed Newly Enlightened Sinners:

It’s 3 in the morning. There is no moonshine. You’re happily sleeping in bed and then the power goes off. You wake up to an occasional meep from the smoke alarms. But your world has no ambient light. It is black, pitch black. You have to feel your way through the house until you find a flashlight, a candle, or perhaps a hurricane lamp. Only then do shapes, colors, and objects come into view. Is it any wonder that humans are drawn to the light? Is it any wonder that we crave the light?

This familiar Christmas gospel begins by taking us back in time to the creation of the world. John was very familiar with the opening lines of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.'” You hear those thoughts echoed by John when he writes of Christ’s birth: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made…In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

We know that Jesus is the Eternal Word of God in human flesh. He know that He was the operative Force, the power used in creation by the Father. He was the “let there be.” We also know that “Christ is the light of the world.” In Him resides God’s heavenly light and through Him came physical light. So light is Divine, literally. But, what are we to make of that phrase: “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”?

Imagine suddenly finding yourself living in total blackness. Imagine never having experienced light and all the inner glow and joy that it brings. Suddenly and without warning light appears. What is it? What are these things we call: colors? What are these things we call: shapes? Suddenly your whole knowledge of almost everything, your knowledge about your own little black world is turned upon its head. This is the reality of Christmas. This is the reality that sin drenched humans, evil corrupted humans, experience when they face the truth of Christmas. The Light has come and humans shake their heads in non-comprehension.

Can any human ever really grasp exactly how God’s Light has remade their lives? Can any human get their head around how wonderfully their lives have been transformed by Jesus Christ? The short answer is: no. And knowing that, God sent John the Baptist to help prepare darkened souls for that moment when Christ would burst upon the scene. “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”

No matter how hard times get in this world, no matter how hard sin-blackened souls try to stamp out the true meaning of Christmas, its ageless truths will always be with us and will always elicit awe and wonder and joy. For once eternal Light has come no one can put it back in its bottle. It is cosmic.

“He (the Light) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The majority of people who lived at Jesus’ time and even who met Him personally, that majority failed to recognize Him for Who He was: the Son of God. Hence, they did not receive Him in grateful faith. And yet, there were others, people just like you today, who did and have received Him with great joy! You and I are children of God, children of this Light. We didn’t come to such spiritual enlightenment by our own innate ability. We didn’t “see” the Light just because we had something to offer God. No, our faith, our “seeing the Light” was literally born into us by God! He rebirthed us via baptism. He made us new creations through the power of the Spirit when we were exposed to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.

When you talk about Christmas gifts—that is the only one that matters.—Jesus was God’s Christmas gift to us and by His undying love He moved us to unwrap it through faith and also to embrace it, to embrace Him, through faith.

By now almost all of you have opened your Christmas gifts. When you did so, did you think about the love that went into them and the love of others conveyed by them? Shortly we’ll be taking our church offering. It is an avenue for you to give a special gift of love to the Christ Child, isn’t it? It’s one of your Christmas gifts to Him. But all that gift giving means nothing, absolutely nothing without recognizing that He is The Gift! He is God’s free gift of Light, Love, Joy, Peace, and Forgiveness to us! He is God’s eternal heart wrapped in human flesh. And that cosmic truth can never be snuffed out! It warms our hearts throughout life and then when we leave this world it transports us into the glorious Light of heaven. So, once again this Christmas we rejoice over being: EMBRACED BY THE LIGHT! Amen