Christmas Eve _2008

Christmas Eve 2008
John 1:1-14
Marian Free

In the name of God, as close as a breath and as vast as eternity. Amen.

“The word became flesh and lived among us.” Over the centuries the nature and meaning of the Incarnation has been a matter of considerable debate. People have argued about the the true nature of Jesus and God’s purpose in coming into the world. Yet the ancient hymn at the beginning of John’s gospel sums up the mystery beautifully and succinctly: ”In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. The word became flesh and lived among us.” Through prayer and meditation, John had come to realize that Jesus (the word) pre-existed from the beginning with God. At a point in history, the word (Jesus) took on human form and lived the full human experience – birth, death, joy, pain, friendship, isolation.

Why would God the creator, enter the creation? Why would God subject himself to all the messiness of humanity?

Of course, one of the reason for God to enter our existence was to demonstrate God’s deep and unconditional love for us, but another, and often overlooked intention was to make a profound and confronting statement about us – about our capacity to realize our true identity as children of God, created in God’s image . By becoming one of us, Jesus demonstrated that we are not limited by our human form but that we are capable of great and godly things and that, weak as it is, human flesh can withstand temptation, can allow God to work through it and can express the divine to its fullest extent.

The Orthodox Christians say: “God became human so that humans might become gods.” .In his life and teaching, demonstrated that the ideal relationship of God – one of trust and obedience allowed God’s presence to be most fully known. Through his openness to the presence of God within, Jesus was able to share the goodness and healing power of God with all with whom he came into contact and, understanding the depth of God’s love, he shared that love by word and example to the deserving and undeserving. Jesus did not allow his humanity to overwhelm or diminish his divinity, nor did he allow his human needs and wants to limit the presence of God within. Rather, his whole being was suffused with the presence of God.

What does it mean for Christians in the twenty first century? It means that the challenge of the Incarnation is for us to allow what is god-like within us to develop and grow until the best of human nature takes precedence over the worst and until in our attitudes and way of life we begin to let what it godly show forth in our lives. It means recognizing and accepting the presence of God within, noticing the holy in the midst of the unholy, nurturing and encouraging God’s Holy Spirit and slowly and steadily allowing God’s presence to transform our lives.

We who celebrate the coming of God into the world, need to celebrate the continuing presence of God in our own lives. We who understand that Jesus is God Incarnate, need to allow God to be incarnate in our own lives. We who celebrate the holiness of this night, need to live lives that demonstrate that holiness everyday.

The best Christmas present of all is God’s presence in and with us. We have already received the gift – all we have to do it open it and set it free to work miracles in our lives.

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