Christmas Eve HC HT 11:15pm John 1.1-14
Oh dear, I seem to have forgotten something for my sermon. I wonder if I could borrow a £10 or a £20 note from someone?
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.”
I’m not sure of the origin of this quote but those of you with children or, like me a child at heart, will remember that it was spoken by the turtle, Oogway in the cartoon film Kung Fu Panda shown last Saturday afternoon. The character, Kung Fu master Oogway is talking with Po, a giant fat panda, who is intent on giving up because he thinks he is no good at anything other than making noodles. Master Oogway gentle puts to Po that perhaps he is “too concerned about what was and what will be”.
Perhaps we too would do well to also listen to Master Oogway for Christmas is a time when we can fall into the trap of romanticising past Christmases, spending too much money, and making plans in the preparation for making the best Christmas ever! In our business we are in danger of missing the moment of now, of truly seeing what is being laid before us. Of seeing afresh the true meaning of Christmas which is the celebration of God’s gift to us in His son Jesus in the form a fragile, human baby. Perhaps we have heard the story so many times that it no longer has any meaning and just another part of the traditions of Christmas.
Yet, the arrival of Jesus as a human child is not the start of God’s story with us. The beginning of John’s gospel careful pays attention to how Jesus has been with God before the dawn of time itself as the Word of God. We know words have power. Our words can hurt or heal, comfort or destroy, spread love or hate. But God’s word has the power to create ‘All things came into being through him’. God’s word brings life. God’s word brings His power and presence into the world. But most of all, the Word of God, Jesus, brings Light into the world meaning the possibility of knowing God himself.
No longer is God separated from the world. No longer does He appear in abstract forms of burning bushes or pillars of fire but as a human, in flesh and blood, skin and bone.
This is the true mystical beauty of Christmas. Not presents, and not lights and tinsel or even mince pies. You know, many people complain that there isn’t anything mystical about Christianity. That it’s all too clinical and bound by peculiar religious traditions. Well just try reading John’s gospel. The book just oozes with hidden symbolism! For instance, the writer speaks a lot about light and darkness. The darkness has several levels of meaning from describing all the evil things that happen in the world such as war and poverty. But darkness also refers to being out of relationship with God. In fact living in darkness is to be dead to God’s invitation. Whereas the light means to live in knowledge of being loved by God, and having a life shaped by Him. Of living fully present in the world.
Yet this gift of light, this gift of love of God through the giving of His son Jesus, is not just a certain few who are holy enough, worthy enough of such an expensive present. No. John’s book says
“to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God”.
Did you hear that? To ALL! Meaning anyone at all! Anyone! God’s gift is freely given. It can’t be bought or sold. No amount of money can guarantee its purchase. And the gift is permanent too. Not like a human gift that may last a little while or returned to the store or even donated to the church fayres.
All that money spent on Christmas because we hope to bring a little happiness. (set fire to flash paper fake money notes)
Our presents may bring us a little light, as we do the best we can for those we love, but in our hearts we know it’s only a temporary fix, a moment of fleeting happiness for the day and the season, but there’s a light and a flame that flickers, but never dims, whatever the day or season. Only the true light, the gift of Christ brings everlasting happiness and love of God this Christmas time now and forever. It is the light of Christ which inspires our Christmas kindness, and when Christmas is over, and the wrapping paper is in the bin, lives on in us, as the light of love come into the world.