In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Merry Christmas! And Thanks be to God! The celebration is here, all that waiting is over and we remember the reason for the season; The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. A bit of a different way to say Jesus was born of Mary, but true none the less. We’ve heard the fuller stories of Jesus’ birth from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, but John’s Gospel manages to summarise who Jesus is and all that will happen from well, I suppose creation, but more specifically Jesus’ life death and resurrection. The Word, God, life, light, came into the world, was rejected by His creation but not overcome, then there are those who do believe and are now children of God. Jesus came, and because of Him you have life and light in Jesus. You are saved.
Of course this is why we are celebrating. A child is born, a son is given. This is why we’ve received presents either last night or this morning, Jesus was born in the night as the angels and shepherds show so that’s the best time, but … regardless just as God Almighty, Father in Heaven, sent and gave His son to you, the world, we share in giving gifts and receiving them with thanksgiving. But what is so special about this gift to the world, why do we set aside up to 12 days to celebrate it, from now to Epiphany? And why might it feel like John is speaking over our heads?
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John calls Jesus, the true light coming into the world. This is not to confuse us but rather to help us understand what Jesus has done for you and for the whole world. God is light, so evil the opposite of God, is darkness (1 John 1). We know what a dark action is, it’s anything you’ve done that you would rather keep hidden; not like a present, more like the stolen snack or the lies you tell. A simple question, at night what happens to the darkness when you turn on the light? … It disappears. Gone. The darkness doesn’t put out the candle, or short circuit the bulb. It is destroyed. Jesus removes evil. And what wonderful things does this mean for you?
This whole world was made through Jesus, The Word of God, but we did not know Him, or receive Him. We all here are born from this world. Yes, created by God, but unfortunately, along with this whole world, corrupted and darkened by sin, selfishness, evil and death. We might have noticed, we don’t need to teach kids to be jealous, but rather they need to be taught to share. Humans are sinful from birth, rejecting God’s ways in favour of our own. But by God’s grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit in baptism, you are one of those who have received Jesus, and you will receive again The true light, full everlasting life, in the mystery of Holy Communion. Thank the Lord! Jesus, like light, chases away your darkness and brings you His life. He forgives you all your evil and will continue to comfort you in your suffering until the time comes when you enter His eternal, royal glory. Without Jesus there is only darkness, death and deception; ask most any adult convert if they would like to go back to their previous life.
To reject the peace and joy we have in God and His gracious gifts for your ultimate good might seem like a foolish thing, especially for those who remember their life outside of the light of Christ. Yes, for us in His light of truth it might not seem all butterflies and flowers all the time, we suffer because of our faith and trust in the truth both from outside ourselves and within. Look at the one we are following, Jesus our Lifegiver, He suffered more in this world than anyone I know, sweating like blood before the day of His crucifixion, pleading with God The Father but still holding true to the truth to be lifted up like a light for all of us, defeating darkness and destroying death a few days later. In His light we have no fear of the dark powers of sin or death, because they are destroyed by Jesus. And Thank God for that!
We know the truth, we see it, we live it. The baby born, struggling through life, rejected by this dark world, but finally victorious over sin and death, saving all those who believe Him, the children of God, and will at the end shine bright, revealing all for what it truly is and finally destroying darkness, bringing eternal peace, joy and life.
Thanks be to God! And may His peace guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, the baby born today, your saviour. Amen.
Rev. Joseph Graham