Sunday, December 25, 2011
Christmas Day, 2011
John 1:1-14 (ESV) 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 were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.  The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,  who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of Grace and truth. It’s an abstract text for Christmas day. It doesn’t say anything about babies, mangers, virgin births, angels in the sky or shepherds, but in plain language explains what happened when that Virgin gave birth, in no uncertain terms it spells out who the little child is, that was laid in a manger. He is God incarnate, God in the flesh, the only son from the Father, or as it used to say, the only begotten son of the Father, The one who was begotten of his Father before all worlds, begotten from eternity, A son, a child begotten, meaning not made, not adopted like you and I. In this he is distinct. In this he is different. In this he is God, the word made flesh, the word that was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God. The Greek word is Monogeneus, only generated, only begotten. I wish they kept that word in the more modern translations. I know it isn’t used much anymore. People don’t always know what it means, there are dictionaries, though. And saying he is the only son from the Father, lends itself to more confusion than saying he is the only begotten son of the Father. You read it in a modern translation and you might get the notion that we then are not children of God, but we are, and we are because of what the only begotten son did for us. He came to dwell among us, the Greek uses a word whose root is tent, and is meant to conjure up images of the tabernacle that Moses built. The tabernacle was a tent that housed the name of God, the glory of God, though God fills the entire earth, he remained in the temple in a special way, there he put his glory, it was from there the people received forgiveness, it was from there that God communicated his holiness to the people. And now, God had found a new tent, a new tabernacle, a new temple to house his name, his being, his glory and through which to communicate his holiness. His new tent was a child, a baby born of a virgin, laid in a manger. It was a temple that would be destroyed and raised up again in three days, and the disciples then understood he was talking about his body. It is a theme that runs throughout the gospel of John. Here God dwells among us. Here is our Emmanuel! The word become flesh to dwell among us, full of Grace and Truth. Yes, grace and truth, the things not expected, so unlike our earthly rulers, those in authority, who are so rarely merciful, so rarely given to grace, and whom can rarely if ever be trusted to be truthful. I mean it doesn’t matter which one’s you like, which ones you don’t, honest politician is an oxymoron, it is something non-existent. But here is Jesus, full of grace and truth, and if you ever wonder why our earthly rulers aren’t full of Grace and truth, realize that was tried once, and it did not go well. Grace and truth get you crucified in this world. Jesus didn’t care. He was the one man who had it, uncorrupted by sin, God in the flesh, he knew what grace and truth would bring to him, he brought it to the world anyway, but not first without warning those who sought his death with their lies, and ruthlessness, destroy this temple, destroy this tabernacle, and I will raise it up in three days. They did not understand, nor did they care too. They were going to crucify him, and they did. But then that was the point of this little child who was the word become flesh, this God who came to dwell among us, the only God there ever has been, who from the beginning was with God, and with God created everything there was, he this God full of Grace and Truth, allowed himself to be crucified, so that his Grace, his truth would be fulfilled, so that in his death, we would die to sin, and in his resurrection we would live in Grace and Truth, and in his flesh, and in his blood, we would be given the forgiveness of sins, and the peace that surpasses all understanding, a peace that is a reconciliation between a Holy Father, and his rebellious children, brought about by the death and resurrection of his only begotten son, the word become flesh. Amen.