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Reflecting God’s Glory in the World: Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 25, 2018:
Hebrews 1:1ff
John 1:1ff

[The Son…] being the brightness of [God’s] glory, and the express image of his person…

In him was life, and the life was the light of all.

And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.

[John] was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light, which lighteth everyone that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

Life and light. Two prominent themes in the readings for today. But it’s a spiritual truth, an ironic truth, that isn’t necessarily apparent on the surface. That the fullness of God’s glory comes to us, here in our world, in the form of a person. A sneezing, laughing, crying baby, laid in some hay. Who grows into someone, perhaps covered in sawdust, from his day job. And whose dirty feed would take him along roads and pathways up and down and across Palestine, accepting, touching, and healing the sick and unclean.

It’s a light and a glory that isn’t obvious. No wonder there is that theme of rejection in the Gospel reading: “the world knew him not.”

But the story of the nativity, or Incarnation, aren’t just stories about Jesus, and about his time. They’re stories that reach out and touch us, and our time:
“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.”

Christmas is, in a sense, about marriage (and not Mary and Joseph’s). It’s about the marriage of God and humankind. Godhood and humanity. And how human existence is forever changed after God’s glory is born — physically born — as a baby.

That’s why St. Athanasius could write: “He was made human so that he might make us gods” And St. Augustine writes: “He himself that justifies also deifies, for by justifying he makes sons of God. ‘For he has given them power to become the sons of God.”

(And not in the manner of some New Age thinking. But following what we heard from John’s prologue: “to them gave he power to become the sons of God.”)

So Christmas has to do with God’s glory and light. But al

so God’s life. The life that God wills for us. As we hear again on the story of the Nativity, and reflect on this miracle of the Word made flesh, we’re challenged to see God in our neighbour. Especially our neighbours for whom there is no room at the inn. The neighbours who have to travel a difficult journey due to a census, or we might say, those who struggle because of bureaucracy and red tape of whatever kind.

Michael Coren, in The Toronto Star, wrote this just the other day:

I have good news: there is no war. The problem is, there is not really any Christmas either.

Because if there were, Christians would be notorious for grabbing the culture by the neck and shaking it with revolutionary passion into a society that embraced equality and hope, that worked to guarantee that nobody went without food, housing, health care, education or happiness. They’d be respected as people who roared resistance to racism, homophobia, religious discrimination and war. They’d be known for their embrace of migrants, refugees and newcomers, and their work with those who were usually rejected and despised.

So today we give thanks for the Christchild who came and lived among us. But who grew into the adult Christ who challenged us to love our neighbour, and lived out that love to the end.

In him was life, and the life was the light of all.

And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness overcame it not.

May we reflect that light in our own lives. Amen.

© 2018 The Rev’d Matthew Kieswetter