The first Sunday after Christmas–Dec 27, 2020
- Merry Christmas! Yes, it is still Christmas and will be until January 5th. Not a day but a season.
- Advent begins the liturgical year. Four weeks four Sundays before Christmas day. It is all about preparing our hearts for Christ’s coming: tree (life), lights (light of world), Advent candles, manger scenes.
- Christmas on December 25th begins the Christmas Season or Christmastide. Twelve days. It is all about celebrating God’s act of incarnation (Latin: incarnatio, ”enfleshment”); gifts. In the Orthodox tradition: “Christ is born!” “Glorify Him!”
- Epiphany is on January 6th and begins the Epiphany season. It is all about celebrating God’s act of revealing himself to us Gentiles (non-Jews): magi. In Eastern Orthodoxy, also baptism and the wedding of Cana. In Western Church, “the chalking of the doors”.
- The church calendar provides structure and tradition. Framework for discipleship.
Scripture Reading – John 1:14 SLIDE 2
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
- Consummate Christmas text:
- Tells us who this baby was
- Tells us what he was doing there, what came to do
- Tells us the response of others who recognized who this was
First question this text answers is: Who was this baby? SLIDE 3
- Answer: none other than Ho logos
- Unique to John among biblical authors. “Word” is logos: word, message, verbal expression. A word is a thought clothed with language.
- Consistent with other NT texts: Col 1:15: “He is the image (eikon) of the invisible God”; Heb 1:3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God, the exact representation (charakter) of his being”.
- How? He is God: Jn 1:1-2.
- Who is this baby lying in a feeding trough? Nicene Creed: “God of God, light of light, very God of very God”. Astonishing!
- Phil Yancey captures the wonder when he writes: “The God who came to earth came not in a raging whirlwind nor in a devouring fire. Unimaginably, the Maker of all things shrank down, down, down, so small as to become an ovum, a single fertilized egg…The God who roared, who could order armies and empires about like pawns on a chessboard, this God emerged in Palestine as a baby who could not speak or eat solid food or control his bladder.”
- What was the word doing in that manger? Second question: SLIDE 4
“became flesh and lived among us”
- “became” is ginomai: “became, was made, began to be” flesh (sarx); “live” is skanoo; can mean ”tabernacled, encamped”.
- “live among us”: Why did Jesus wrap himself in our humanity? One reason: wanted to reestablish relationship, live face-to-face.
- An act of compassionate solidarity that defies comprehension. Ex: Queen Elizabeth and Bidwell park homeless encampment.
- People responded to Jesus in different ways. Saw last week:
- Herod abhorred him and tried to kill him.
- Religious leaders ignored him, later tried to kill. Why? Jn 3:19: loved darkness rather than light, deeds were evil. John 1:11: did not receive him (paralambano).
- The magi and his followers adored him
- Reflecting back on his own response, John would write: SLIDE 5
“and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”
- Three things to note:
- Normal humans were able to understand and appreciate Jesus’ glory. “Glory” is doxa, trans. Heb. kavod: weightiness, substance. His glory, seen in his miracles and his death, showed he was more than a simple Galilean carpenter. Everyone who desired could see this.
- It was obvious to people that Jesus’ glory was the result of his one-of-a-kind, face-to-face relationship with the Father: “glory as of the only Son (monogenes) from the Father”. The one and only, unique.
- People encountered Jesus as both imminently approachable and entirely trustworthy. He was “full of grace and truth”.
- God has always revealed himself as entirely trustworthy: full of truth. He has always done what he says he will do. Cannot lie; cannot be other than who he is.
- And God was pretty approachable before the covenant at Sinai: initiated with Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. But in that covenant, he didn’t appear approachable (curtain in tabernacle; high priest on Yom Kippur). Why? (Differentiate how treated him vs. other Elohim)
- But then Jesus comes. How? As a baby born to poor parents lying in feeding trough. From the get go, Jesus was approachable. As Phil Yancey expressed it: “what could be less scary than a newborn with his limbs wrapped tight against his body?”
- In fact, the whole tenor of the Christmas story seems carefully orchestrated way of saying: “Come and be with me. You don’t need to be afraid. I won’t hurt you or condemn you. I am for you. I’m on your side.”
- All throughout Jesus life, he was known for his approachability. He was a person that children were attracted to. He developed a reputation for hanging out with the “tax collectors and sinners”. He was expressing the true heart of the Father.
- Is this the way you see God? Many Christians picture him as an austere, grim-faced moralizer who is constantly making demands on us, is never pleased with our behavior. So, they subconsciously don’t want to be with him; want to keep their distance.
- But when you are deeply convinced that Jesus and the Father are our friends and love us and delight in our companionship, then it opens up to us a whole new world. We can’t wait to spend time with God each morning. Each day is a new adventure.
- We are in Day Three of the Christmas season or Christmastide. This year, don’t rush to take down the decorations. Linger. Celebrate Christmas as a season, not a single day. Make it magical.
- Each morning, take a different person in the Nativity narrative and imagine what it would have been like to be him or her: Mary, Joseph, shepherds, magi, Simeon, Anna, etc.
- Watch The Chosen Christmas Special 2020. Whole episode (1:47:33): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5ftnTK9-3w Story only (24:17): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paOjgZZDads