December 25, 2016
John 1:1-14, Isaiah 52:7-10
“Love Dwells Here”
Last night we heard of Mary, Joseph, shepherds and angels as they gathered around to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a magical story that captures our hearts every time. It seems strange to walk in on Christmas morning and all those characters have stepped into the background. The story has been stripped away and what is left is
and flesh. It feels rather stark. It is beautiful, even poetic, but I find myself longing for angels and barn animals to surround me this morning. Can we just bask in the heavenly chorus for a bit?
This text reminds us of some important truths and it is good to hear them on Christmas: the world is God’s.
Jesus isn’t some distant figure. He has taken human form and lives among us.
Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the Bible The Message has some wonderful phrases from this passage from the first chapter of John. The first is a reminder that light and dark exist together.
“What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.” (vv. 4-5)
My friend Jan Richardson’s husband died in early December three years ago. Last year, she wrote about friends who reached out to her during Advent. She talked about living in the shadows and how these friends reaching out were a source of light for her. She said that Advent isn’t waiting for the light to show up, but learning to see the light that is already there. (http://adventdoor.com/2015/12/21/christmas-eve-light-has-shined/)
That is a powerful message for us this Christmas morning. We don’t have to wait for the light to shine. The light is already here. We need to train our eyes to see it.
“A seminary student was preparing a lesson plan on the ninth chapter of Isaiah. ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined.’ As part of her research into this passage, the student decided to try and find the darkest place on campus. After hunting around, she discovered a little-used racket ball court in the basement of a classroom building. It was accessed only by going down two flights of steps and through a few heavy doors. A good portion of the court was probably underground. The student discovered that when you got inside and closed the door and turned out the lights, it was really dark in there. It was, she said, totally dark. Scary dark.”
“When it came time for this student to lead her class through the lesson, she brought them down the stairs, through the doors, and sat them down around the edges of the court. Then she said, "You are people who live in a land of deep darkness." And she turned out the light. A few students gasped. Then it got pretty quiet. She waited. In the hush and in the dark, they sat. They sat and waited. After five long, silent, and absolutely dark minutes, she read the words, "Those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them light has shined." With those words she struck a match and lit a small candle. That small candle didn’t fill the vast room with light, but it changed things. With the flickering of the light, people saw themselves, and they saw each other. They saw faces-surprised faces, puzzled faces, and even a couple of faces streaked with tears. For those in deep darkness, a little light made all the difference, all the difference in the world.” (http://day1.org/1022-luminarias)
That is the message of Christmas. “God enters into the darkness to sit alongside of us. God refuses to dwell in the heavens above and from a safe distance watch the drama of human life play out. Instead, God climbs right into the darkest places to be with us.” - Rev. Dr. Scott Black Johnston (http://day1.org/1022-luminarias)
Another way to say it is “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (The Message v. 14)
That is what we celebrate this morning… the incarnation. God moves into our neighborhood. God walks the streets we walk, shops the shops we shop, experiences the same weather we do. God has taken human flesh and chooses live among us. That says that God is more interested in relating to humans than having power over us. So, this morning and this evening, look for the light. Look for God who has chosen to take human form and show us how to navigate life when it is difficult, how to care for one another, and how to love in all things. That is the message of Christmas – love dwells among us and shows us the way.