Within the gospel reading’s profound words lies the simple message that God is revealed in a human person. Though we may try to understand how the Word existed with God from the beginning of time, the wonder we celebrate at Christmas is that the Word continues to dwell among us. Christ comes among us in the gathered assembly, the scriptures, the waters of new birth, and the bread and the wine. Through these ordinary gifts we receive the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
Readings and Psalms
- Jeremiah 31:7-14
Joy at the gathering of God’s scattered flock
- Psalm 147:12-20
Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. (Ps. 147:12)
- Ephesians 1:3-14
The will of God made known in Christ
- John 1:[1-9] 10-18
God with us: the incarnation of the Word
A Light in Our Darkness
The longest night of the year has passed, but while the light is increasing, it remains so incremental it appears as though the darkness outside is triumphing. By the third day of January, the hangovers have arrived. Not just the self-inflicted suffering of many on New Year’s Eve, but also the financial hangovers of the irrational exuberance of Christmas. Only a few more days and the darkness of January bills will be casting a pall over many homes. Add to all this the darkness of illness and injury, sorrow and loss, and even in this season there is plenty of pain and anxiety to go around.
Still, the promise of hope comes to us this day, not in the form of an infant as on Christmas Eve but in the form of light. We celebrate the pure radiant light that cuts through the darkness of this world and shines into shadow-filled lives. It is the light that shines through the love broken and poured in bread and wine. It is the light of the holy presence of Christ in times of confusion and despair. It is the light of grace and truth shining into lives young and old, rich and poor, broken and whole.
It is the light of Christ that sends people like John the Baptist into this world, people who dedicate their lives to pointing others toward Jesus. Some days we are privileged to play this role for others, reminding them of Jesus. Other days we need John the Baptist to tell us the story one more time. We need people like John to point our eyes toward the light, undiminished by time, so that we can see clearly the promise of Jesus in our lives, our communities and our world.