In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of 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 past week, a lot of people have asked me: “Are you having church on Christmas day?”
My response was that Christmas Day should be so important to the life of the Christian, we should be in church every year on this holy day, and not just when it happens to fall on Sunday once every seven years!
The reason we lead worship which begins with Advent and ends with Christ the King Sunday, is because we believe the life of the Christian should be governed, directed and guided by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Our lives as Christians begin and end on this earth with this birth that we celebrate on Christmas Day.
The words of one of my favorite Christmas carols go like this: “Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say, Mary ‘s boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day. Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today. And we will live forevermore, because of Christmas Day.” Because of Christmas Day.
The good, glorious news of this holy morning is that we know who our God is, how our God acts and what our God desires; we know who we are, how we should act and what we should desire, because of Christmas day.
Left to our own devises, we could not get close to God, so on Christmas Day God came close to us. Our God who was thought to be distant became as close as God could possibly be to us—becoming one of us—becoming flesh to dwell among us, giving us the best gift that God had to give, the gift of God’s self. Thus, as Christians we know how to live. And we know how to die. Because of Christmas Day.
Just think about it! When we lose a loved one to death or encounter evil in this world, we grieve, but how can we grieve with hope and assurance? How do we grieve with a peace that is truly beyond understanding? How do we know that God is always a giver and never a taker? Because of Christmas Day!
Because on this day, God proved to the world how far God is willing to go to give us life! God loves us so much that God emptied God’s self, poured God’s self out to us and for us through a vulnerable little baby born in a stable who grew into a man show us the way to life, abundant and eternal. And although we rejected not only this way, but also him; although spat upon him, tortured him and killed him by nailing him to a tree, God brought him back to life for the very ones who crucified him—revealing in a real and powerful way that God will never give up on us. God will never forsake us. God will always be there for us, forgiving us, loving us, transforming our despair into hope and our deaths into life.
One day, someone asked me why I don’t preach more about the judgment of God, the wrath of God, and preach less about the love and the grace of God. How can I preach with confidence that God is never using the pain of this world to punish us for our sins, but God is always here with us loving us and forgiving us and doing whatever God can do to work all things together for the good? Because of Christmas Day!
Because God came into the world in Jesus to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, eat and drink with sinners, forgive the adulterer, and promise a thief paradise.
Why is our invitation to communion wide-open to all people every Sunday morning? Why are we compelled to love others and share with others so freely and so unconditionally?
To others—to those others who do not deserve our love and have not and will not earn our love—to those others who may reject our love and even abuse our love. Why do we keep on sharing with and keep on loving those who may never share with us and love us? Because of Christmas Day.
Because God was born to an underserving woman named Mary, was worshipped first by undeserving shepherds, called undeserving fishermen to be his disciples and died for undeserving people like me and you. Because we have received grace, we are compelled to extend grace. Because we have been forgiven, we are compelled to forgive. Because of Christmas Day.
“Long time ago in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible say, Mary ‘s boy child Jesus Christ was born on Christmas Day. Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today. And we will live forevermore, because of Christmas Day.”
Because of Christmas Day.