The Word, the light of the world, comes to Earth and takes on flesh in Christ. This Word is for you.
Vicar Erik Doughty, Christmas Day, the Nativity of Our Lord; texts: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14
Some of you are here because you come to every liturgy Mount Olive Lutheran Church offers – weekday Vespers, Saint’s-day Eucharist, whatever. Welcome. This Word is for you.
Others of you are here because every so often, about twice a year, you need to be here, with the pipe organ and the incense, the choir, the festival Eucharist. Welcome. This Word is for you.
And there are some of you who are here with relatives, who are not quite sure what this is all about, or who are here because the relatives do this on Christmas Day and you care about them. And maybe you are from a different faith tradition, or no particular faith tradition. Welcome. This Word is for you.
Last night, if you got here early, you heard stunning choral and instrumental music. Last night, during the liturgy, we heard from Isaiah about the Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace; and in the Gospel according to Luke, we heard the evocative story of Jesus’ birth, shepherds and all – you know, on “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” it’s Linus’ monologue, “Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” And then you listen to the King James Version, you get a lump in your throat and you hug the dog as you feel sappy and warm and you cry a little into your hot cocoa, right? (Maybe I’m projecting.)
Well, today if you got here early, you got – brunch. In today’s readings, Isaiah gives us – feet. And John gives us the LOGOS, the Word, the light of the world, which becomes flesh and lives among us. Luke gave us the messy birth narrative; John gives us the cosmic creative Word come down on earth.
This Word judges all sin.
This Word throws down the mighty, and lifts up the lowly.
This Word feeds the hungry and sends the rich away empty.
This Word is mercy.
This Word is forgiveness.
This Word is light which enlightens everyone.
Through this Word, every single thing was created; and this Word holds all things together.
This Word brings life, even to the dead.
This Word comes to earth to take on flesh, to know us and love us as we are.
This Word, eternal, will die because we will kill it.
This Word, light from light, will be extinguished for our darkness, on Good Friday.
And yet, that is not the end of the story.
The Word which we silence; the enlightening light which we extinguish, re-lights, sounds anew, at the will of God on Easter.
The Word chooses to speak through, to be spoken by, us to one another when we baptize, when we forgive one another, when we advocate for care of creation, for justice, for peace. The Word speaks when we speak out for the lowly, the poor, the abused and neglected, the oppressed. And the light shines, always, but when we share that light it shines far brighter than the Xenon headlights on your VW Passat or your MINI Cooper. Work to end bullying? The light shines. Help someone out of addiction? The light shines. Volunteer your time at Our Saviour’s shelter? The light shines. Even giving a cough drop to a miserable fellow-worshipper, the light shines. The Word, the Light, the Cosmic Christ inspires our awe . . . and shows us, speaks to us, of the many little things we can do for our neighbor.
I know you are in darkness. For one thing, on June 25, we will have over 7 more hours of daylight than we do today! But also, I know the darkness surrounds our lives. LaVella Krona, a member of our community at Mount Olive, died last week. Karen Slingsby, my partner Scott’s aunt, died in the middle of this week. Thursday, our sexton William’s car was stolen. (And though it’s been found, it may or may not be driveable.) I am sure these same sorts of things happen in all of our lives – we know the darkness; we recognize it everywhere. We get sick, we suffer anxiety, bad things happen.
And the darkness insinuates itself into our brains. The darkness says:
You are useless.
You are worthless.
You make no sense.
You’re too fat. Too rich. Too old.
You’re too skinny. Too poor. Too young.
You’re too stupid.
You’re too smart.
That person who dumped you once was right.
Women are hysterical.
Blondes have no brains.
Gay and lesbian people will destroy marriage.
People of color are lazy.
All the worst things about you define you.
You’ll feel better if you buy a few things, if you eat a few things, if you have a few drinks, if you take a few drugs.
You do not fit in. You belong nowhere.
But the darkness cannot silence the Word. And the darkness cannot understand or overcome hope, or love, or faith. Today, the Word comes among us, as one of us, for us, for all people; and we will always have hope. Today, the Word comes among us, as one of us, for us, for all people, and we will always have faith. Today, the Word comes among us, as one of us, for us for all people, and we will always have love.
And the Word says:
I claim you; fear not; you are mine. You belong to me. You are a beloved part of me. Through me, you were created. You are priceless, you are perfect, you are one-of-a-kind, you are precious. You are beautiful; you are smart, and even if you are not, I love you.
The Word says, “I define you. All that the darkness whispers – poison in your ear – I will heal, I will undo, I will re-create, I will wash away in baptismal rain. I forgive you all your sins. I free you to live in grace. I call you to do justice. I empower you to build community. I am light, and before me the darkness flees away. I will feed you with my own body and blood; I, the Word, sound all this into reality, and it is good. You are mine, you are lovely, you are priceless, you are forgiven, you are free.”
Beloved, today this Word comes down on earth in Christ for you and for the whole world. I invite you to trust the Word; and I invite you to share the Word, because the darkness will give way before it this Christmas and every day. This Word is for you.