An idea for a Christmas sermon that doesn’t quite hit the right tone…
According to John…
It took me many years to write it. Many years of pondering on the incredible events of those three years. Others had already written the story, of course. Gospels that told of his teaching, his miracles, and of his death. But there was more that needed to be told. The things that couldn’t be seen. The things that we only realised years later. The truths that took a long time to really sink in. And that’s why I couldn’t start with the baby being born. Not because that’s not what happened. Not because it wasn’t important that it happened like that. Others had written that story already, and better than I could have. No, I couldn’t start there because it would be too close. Too close too early. This is a big story, not a little one, and I needed people to understand that. If you want to see a city, you need to go outside the walls, get some distance. Otherwise it’s just houses. So I didn’t start with the baby. I started before that. I started before everything.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
God was before everything, this we have always known. It’s written in the first lines of scripture. The first, the source of everything, the one who gives meaning to everything. But now I realised that he was not alone. The one who gives meaning had spoken that meaning in a way that makes sense. He had spoken a Word. And the Word was him, expressed in a way we could understand.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
God is life and God is light. He gave us the very breath in our lungs, the spark in our eye, but more than that, he gave us all that is good and gives life. The joy of a baby’s smile, the warmth of a hand in ours. All we long for and need, offered out to us, like a light shining in a dark place. We can’t help but find our eyes drawn to it, wouldn’t you think? But somehow we miss it. Time and again we make the wrong choices, choose what frustrates us instead of what we need. We don’t recognise the light.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that allmen through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
John. I remember him. Like a madman, raving out in the desert. Maybe all people who see a great truth seem mad to everyone else. And he had seen it, no mistaking it. He had looked right into the light shining in the darkness. He saw the way that all round him people turned their backs on it, scrabbling round in the shadows, ignoring it. So he shouted about it, put a few people’s backs up. Made others think he was the light. But he was just a man shouting ‘open your eyes’!
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
Jesus. I heard the stories about his birth, but I never knew him then. I only met him as a man. But always far, far more than that. The Word, spoken where everyone can hear it. The Light, shining where it can be seen by everyone. The answer to all our questions, the fulfilling of all our needs, right there. So, of course, we turned our backs on him. Not how the story should end, really, is it? The Word spoken at the beginning of time is spoken again, and we try and silence it. Sometimes the truth is not what we want to hear.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
So it’s lucky, really, that that isn’t the end of the story. Because some didn’t reject him. I guess it started with that young couple taking on a child who would never quite be theirs. The innkeeper who found a place a young woman could give birth in safety. The shepherds and wise men who sought him out. And so it went on, until I got caught up in it too. And now you. You see, it’s not a small story. It’s the biggest story of them all. It started before the world began. And you’re writing the latest chapters now. The Light is still shining, the Word is still being spoken. How will you respond?