Good morning, happy Thursdays, Happy New Year, and many blessings.
All four gospels give us stories about the origins of Jesus. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus shows up as a fully-grown man, ready to be commissioned to action by being baptized in the Jordan River. In the gospels of Matthew and Luke, we hear stories of angel-announcements and Jesus’ birth, an extraordinary coming of God as a tiny, vulnerable baby.
In today’s Gospel, John 1:1-18, goes back even further in time, back to the very beginning, not just of Jesus, but of the entire creation. It’s no accident that this passage sounds so very much like those opening verses of Genesis—In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep… Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light [Genesis 1:1-3]. John wants us to make this connection. He deliberately sets out to evoke our memory of this story.
The story of Jesus is not just the story of a man. The story of Jesus is not just the story of a family, or even a baby. The story of Jesus is the story of God: of God’s loving acts of creation. In and through the coming of Jesus, God is creating again something new, a new reality. The story of Jesus is a story as fundamental as darkness and light. It is as elemental as the turning of the planet, away from the sun, and then back again.
John shows us that Creation is not an event of the past, but the ongoing life of God with his people. What this Gospel does, is raise the story of Christ’s birth to the level of symbol and looks at the theological meaning behind the Incarnation, the becoming human, of Jesus.
That is the truth of Christmas for us. It is also the Christmas truth for the person living next door, for those we love, for those who are like us and those who are different, for the stranger, and for our enemies. “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
So, why do we celebrate Christmas? It is more than the birth of Jesus. It is a celebration of God with us: Emmanuel! It is the realization that God’s love and faithfulness dwells among us. It is a sign that we are to carry that love and faithfulness to others. Like the Baptist, we, too, are to witness to, God’s living, breathing Word.
Let’s face it, this year has been a stressful one. As leaders, we were put to the test of what we really were capable. Like all difficult times, this shall pass too. Let us not lose hope and pray to God for brighter days ahead. In this serious situation of Coronavirus, we wish that you and your loved ones are always safe. One of my goals for the new year is to drop “worry” from my vocabulary, heart, and mind. What about you? Are you ready to replace worry with hope?
Today I invite you to make the promises of Jeremiah (29:11) our own: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Happy New Year!