John 1:[1-9] 10-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
The long awaited day is finally here.
The 10th day of Christmas.
Now of course, most of the fuss has been made in past weeks, months even, leading up Christmas Eve, already 10 days ago. And probably for many, today is a moment to relax… maybe you still even have some that turkey left over to make some sandwiches for lunch.
But for most that gather to worship this morning, the reason that you are here are likely quite different than all the folks who tuned in for Christmas Eve. Today, you might be here because this is an escape from endless family zooms, or yet another Christmas break walk with household. Or maybe even as the world has moved on from Christmas, you are still looking to hear some Christmas music. 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 unique about these Sundays after Christmas… and I think it has to do with the fact that these days after Christmas each year are when we release ourselves from the burden of creating the perfect memories with the magic of the season. 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 Christmases imagined.
In fact, the season of Christmas in most churches stands in stark contrast to the experience of Christmas that most of 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, zoom party planning, YouTube concerts and amazon prime deliveries. 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 Eve and Christmas Day is an unconscious or unaware preparation. There might be tallies and lists of the number of gifts to buy, wrap and ship, FaceTime calls to make, Christmas cards to mail … but the deeper attention to what the preparations are truly for and why they are important is mostly absent.
And then 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.
And in 2020, Christmas Eve didn’t have a hope to live up to our memories, long before we ever flipped the calendar to December 24th, Christmas Eve was going to fail.
But then we come to the 10th day of Christmas… with Christmas as we usually imagine it probably failing to meet our dreams and expectations… and today 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, nor in no-contact deliveries and Facebook Live Christmas events, not found in Christmas movies which we watched so many of this year, not told by the targets adds and buy local campaigns in our news feeds.
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. Maybe it is a 2020 or 2021 story more than we know.
The Christ comes into the world revealing God to only one household, two people to begin with. Angels from heaven announcing the greatest news 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 comes 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 and nothing. It comes despite our best efforts because we still need saving.
The Word becomes flesh…
the Christ takes on our bodies and our hearts,
our misplaced desires and lonely longings,
and 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 .
And so here we are on 10 the day of Christmas, in the moments after the chaos of the past few months has ended… 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 in your flesh and my flesh and in all human hearts.
Comes in flesh so that we may no longer live in darkness but in light
And on this 2nd Sunday of Christmas, when most all the world is busy with other things, yeah the new year, with vaccinations, with starting 2021 anew, and maybe doesn’t even know that today is still a day to celebrate,
The Christ, the Word comes, and dwells in flesh among us.