Christmas is Just the Beginning
When I was little, I was so excited about Christmas Day and wanted so badly for it to last forever that I actually wound up spending most of the day feeling sad that Christmas was almost over. And even as an adult, it kind of feels that way.
We have four weeks of build-up. Four weeks of the prophets yelling at us to Wake up! Keep Watch! Prepare! Four weeks or, if you’re on the Target Christmas schedule, 10 weeks of shopping and decorating, and baking, and cursing the fact that you left all your wrapping til the last minute. Again.
And then, we rush to the church on Christmas eve. And we sit in either the holy chaos of the Christmas Pageant, or the sacred stillness of the candlelight service, and hear the familiar story. Mary and Joseph. Bethlehem. The manger. Angels and Shepherds. We feel the thrill of hope and the weary world rejoices.
And then we exchange gifts and spend time with family and friends and then...it’s all kind of over. We go back to business as usual.
But, here’s the thing. Christmas isn’t the end. Christmas is a beginning.
Many of us have heard the story of Christmas so many times, it’s easy to forget just how earth-shattering that first Christmas was. How none of it made sense.
This morning, instead of angels and shepherds and mangers, we hear the prologue to the Gospel of John. While Matthew and Luke focus on the human particulars of Jesus’s birth, and Mark ignores it altogether, John outlines the Incarnation, God coming to live as one of us, in cosmic terms.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John writes of the logos, here translated as Word, but which is something more like: intention, logic, and wisdom all at once. The logos of God has been a part of God from the beginning. Before time and creation. All things came into being through God’s logos. The logos is light, and life. And, at the climax of this passage: “The logos became flesh and lived among us.”
It’s impossible to overstate how big a deal this is.
The very idea that God would become human is ridiculous. Even now, 2,000 years later. It isn’t how things are supposed to be. In the created order of the universe, God, as the creator, is supposed to exist on a plane up here and humanity, as created beings, exist somewhere down here. And these categories should be fixed. But our God doesn’t seem to like being confined by rules.
And so, on Christmas, in the Incarnation, God becomes one of us. On the one hand, God humbles Godself by taking on our humanity and on the other, sanctifies humanity in the process.
In the Incarnation, God reveals Godself for who God is and claims us as children.
How are we supposed to come back from that? To return to business as usual? We can’t. Not now. Not knowing what we know about God and one another. Not knowing the Good News that God loved us enough to live among us as one of us. To die and raise us to new life, showering us with grace upon grace.
Fortunately for us, the tradition of the church gives us a whole season to reflect and pray and spend time celebrating this good news. Today is day one of the 12 days of Christmas. We have almost two weeks!
My invitation to you is to make time in this holy season, to reflect on what it means that God came and lived as one of us. What it means that God loves you so much, that God would live and die and rise to new life among and for us.
“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” Amen.