What Comes Next?

“What Comes Next?”
John 1:1-14
Sunday, December 25, 2011 – Christmas Morning

John’s Christmas Story is perhaps my favorite…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.”

This beautiful scripture paints a magnificent picture of Jesus as the revelation and presence of God. We don’t need the more familiar images of Christmas here…the stable, the angels, the shepherds are all superfluous to John’s story…And yet, it is this story that resonates best for me and draws me in, time and time again.

Our most familiar images of the incarnate Christ are taken from this text…The Word, the Life, and the Light…“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (NRSV) “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.” (CEB) That gives me a chill – Jesus came into this dark, sinful world and nothing can overcome His light…nothing can extinguish His light…Jesus wins over EVERYTHING! Isn’t that exciting?

This morning I’m guessing that everyone has opened all their presents…Either last night or this morning, gifts were exchanged and stockings were emptied…Wrapping paper and ribbon littered the room and somebody had to clean it up…There was probably way too much food and our annual allotment of candy consumed…The rest of today will probably also include more food and maybe a gift or two…The question I want us to consider today is, “What comes next?”

After the big meals, when everyone goes home, and the new stuff is all put away…
what do we do?
Once the families are gone home and we’ve returned the gifts we don’t like…what did Christmas mean this year?
When the words, “The Word became flesh” have faded from our ears, did anything change this year because of Christmas?

What I want us to begin to do today, and throughout the coming weeks, is to allow the significance of the Christmas event to shape the way we understand God,
our relationship with God, and our relationships with one another.
I want this day to really make a difference in your life.
This gospel text is undeniable evidence of the identity of Jesus Christ…
The one who becomes flesh and lives among us is clearly Jesus…
This one is identified as “The Word”.
This same “Word” was with God, was God, and was with God in the beginning…
Everything came into being through the Word – God spoke and creation happened…
Without the Word nothing came into being…
Life began through the Word…
That life was the light for all people…
John’s intent here is to clearly identify Jesus Christ as God…
It is vitally important to John’s entire gospel that we understand this from the beginning.

If Jesus is not God, then nothing else in the story really matters.
Christmas is significant because God steps out of heaven to live with us on earth.
This truth must have an effect on the way we live our lives every day…
Knowing that God – our Creator – is actually alive in our midst has to make a difference.
That’s what “Emmanuel” means – God with us…
And John tells us that nothing can change that fact…

So, what are we going to do with this information?

There is one more thing that we need to notice about the text this morning…
Nestled in the middle of all the beautiful poetry about Jesus is a simple three-line paragraph that talks directly about us“Now, preacher, I’m sure the Bible doesn’t mention me anywhere,” you might be saying. Trust me, this gospel mentions all of us…[Verse 6-8]

In this story, we are John – whose mission it is to testify concerning the Light.
That may seem like a stretch to you, but I think it fits…Once we get past all the glitz and gluttony of Christmas…Once we’ve heard the carols and the same old gospel stories for the hundredth time…Once we finally realize who this Baby Jesus really is…What comes next? – We have a job to do…to tell people what we know.

I read a Facebook post from a friend of mine this week that said:
“The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away.”

We have been given the gift of “grace and truth”…the free gift of eternal life…The purpose of this gift is for us to give it away by sharing the Good News of Christ.

That’s my Christmas message this year – The most important gift we received this Christmas is the one we should give away.

What comes next? – Lives that are transformed by the Word made flesh.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…Amen

Merry Christmas!

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