Elise Ashley Hanley
Christmas Day 2017
Trinity on the Green
Happy Christmas, everyone!
You might be surprised to NOT find the story of Jesus’ birth in our readings this morning. There’s no story of Mary and Joseph and angels, or shepherds. There’s no talk of no room at the inn, or a babe in a manger. Instead, the Gospel of John begins at the beginning – the beginning of time. Long before the birth we celebrate today, Jesus, the Word, was with God – and Jesus was God. All things came into being through Jesus – and without Jesus, not one thing came into being. The poetic language of the text may be a little off putting at first – in fact, some scholars think that this prologue of John’s Gospel was written as a hymn to sing – but our Gospel message reminds us of the cosmic Christ – the Word of God who was always there, and who then became a flesh and blood human to live among us. On Christmas, we celebrate not just Jesus the baby, or just Jesus the man who died for us, but Jesus, as the essential word of God; Jesus Christ, the personal wisdom and power in union with God, God’s minister in creation and government of the universe. Jesus who always was and always is, and is to come.1 God sent Jesus into the world to save us by becoming just like any of us, a human being: a human being to be our friend, role model, and saviour.
If I could describe this Gospel passage with just one word, I think I would say that it is mysterious. How does God become human while still being divine? And why must it be that the divine must become human, in order for us humans to be bound to God? Christmas is ultimately a great mystery.
Now, as much as I wish I were Nancy Drew or Columbo, I’m not here to solve any mysteries today. We don’t have many if any hard facts on how Christmas happened exactly. What we have are stories, passed down through the generations, written and translated again and again. Somehow, over 2000 year is later, we still tell this story. We still continue these traditions.
Today, we celebrate that God did not remain aloof and removed from us. Instead, God sent Emmanuel – God with us. God IS with us. And God loves us, no matter what. I invite you on this Christmas Day to revel in the mystery of God’s love, in the mystery of the incarnation. Let us continue to tell the story of Jesus – the Word made flesh. I wish you all a blessed Christmas.
1 drawn from class notes with Dr. Deirdre Good, The General Theological Seminary.