And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (Read the whole passage)
The long awaited day is finally here.
Dec 25th is the proper feast day for the Incarnation of our Lord or as we know it: Christmas.
Now of course, most of the fuss has been made last night and in the weeks, months even, leading up to last night. And probably for many, today is finally the moment to breathe and relax… unless of course you have a turkey in the oven.
But for most that show up to worship on this morning, the reasons that you are here are likely quiet different than the crowd who came last night. Today, you might be here because this is an escape from the family chaos. Or perhaps you come because of a significant person in your life who always brought you Christmas morning, even though they are long gone. Or perhaps the opportunity to hear again the story of Christ’s coming into the world matters to you, that it matters to your faith… or maybe it is all of those things and more.
Still, there is something special about Christmas morning worship… and I think it has to do with the fact that this may be the first moment each year when we release ourselves from the burden of creating the perfect Christmas. This morning the carols can be sung, the readings read and prayers prayed without need to fill relive all the memories and magic of Christmases past and imagined.
In fact, Christmas Day morning in most churches stands in stark contrast to the experience of Christmas season that the world has been observing for a couple of months now. If we are to believe the Christmas commercials and flyers, the perfect Christmas can be achieved with a combination of spending, baking, decorating, party planning, and other preparations. Which is odd because Christmas is supposed to be a season of celebration, isn’t it? The season where we prepare and watch and wait is Advent. Yet, the preparing that so often goes on in these months before Christmas Day is an unconscious or unaware preparation. There might be tallies and lists of the number of gifts to buy and wrap, holidays parties to attend and baking to complete… but the deeper attention to what the preparations are truly for and why they are important is mostly absent.
And each year, the big day arrives and Christmas Eve is full of expectation. And instead of the wonder of the Angels announcing good news, we experience a frantic desire to recreate and relive memories and traditions of old. And we put on Christmas Eve impossible expectations that no number of traditions can truly ever meet.
So often we arrive at Christmas Eve desperately seeking something which we cannot define, a fleeting feeling only experienced in memory, but rarely in reality.
But then we come to today… with last night having met or failed to met our dreams and expectations… and Christmas Day gives us something different.
We get the Word in the beginning, light in the darkness, word made flesh.
John’s familiar words in the Christmas gospel stand in stark contrast to the way Christmas tends to go in our world.
John speaks poetic words about the Word bringing life into being, about light shining in the darkness and the darkness unable to overcome it, about a world which does not know this word and this light.
And finally John says the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Then that familiar story of Mary and Joseph in the stable, the shepherds and angels coming to worship, the Christ child in the manger… that story takes on a different meaning.
It is a story not found in store window fronts and crowded malls, not found in Christmas movies, not told by the commercials and flyers.
It is a story that isn’t one of a busy and frantic world searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places. It is a story that comes in the quiet and dark places, in the forgotten and sombre places.
The Christ comes into the world revealing God to only two people to begin with. Angels from heaven announcing the greatest new in all space and time, to only a handful of shepherds, people who weren’t expecting or searching for anything.
Despite our best intentions, Christmas as our world often observes it misses the point.
But Christmas according to John makes the point.
The word and the light, the Messiah, the Christ, is born into our world this day, this Christmas Day… and the Christ does not come because of our frantic preparations and searching.
The word and the light come into our darkness, into our lost and forgotten places, into the moments when we can finally breathe, when our search for something to fill our nostalgic memories results in emptiness. It comes because despite our best efforts we still need saving.
The Word becomes flesh… the Christ takes on our bodies and our hearts, our misplaced desires and frantic searches, Jesus joins our world, a world that does not know him, and Jesus becomes the only one who can truly fill that emptiness, that seeking desire within us.
And so here we are on Christmas morning, in the moment after the chaos of the past few months has ended… at least until boxing day… and today is the moment that the Christ comes in flesh to us.
Comes in flesh to bring light and life.
Comes in flesh so that God can be known my flesh and human hearts.
Comes in flesh so that we may no longer live in darkness.
On this Christmas Day, when most all the world is busy with other things, and maybe doesn’t even know that today is the day,
Christ the Word comes, and dwells in flesh among us.