It is Still Christmas John 1:1-18

Christmas SnowI left the house early on Wednesday and made a hospital call.  It was pleasant driving frozen streets with only a few other brave souls.  Most people were still at home asleep; sitting around in their P. J’s.  My drive to the hospital took me under a freeway overpass.  As I approached, an odd sight caught my attention; an aluminum Christmas tree.  Amid the blown trash of an overpass was this strange, glittering piece that made me smile.  Then my heart hurt when I thought about to whom it belonged, a few lonely souls who made that underpass their home on that cold night.  I figured that aluminum tree had been rescued from the side of the road and placed there as their own celebration of Christmas.  It was obvious that their Christmas was over and they were ready to move on to another day.

Have heard it said this week, “Now that the Christmas s over“?  It is true, gifts have been exchanged and some of us have put the decorations up.  It seems that soon as December 26 arrives, Christmas trees are kicked to the curb, and Valentines and spring decorations go up in the stores.  We long for our routine to return.  Christmas is over till… next October.

That is not the way we see it down here at the church.  We observe the twelve days of Christmas.  Christmas begins with Christmas Day and continues for twelve days to Epiphany.  Today we have some geese that will do some laying of eggs.  These days provide opportunity to celebrate Christmas beyond the frantic crush and push of the season.  We call is Christmastide and we focus on the heart of Christmas, so our hearts might be captured by the heart of the celebration.12 Days of Christmas

The central word for Christmastide is this passage from John’s gospel: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  John’s nativity story; it is not with shepherds, angels, or a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.  John takes us to the beginning; echoing the words from Genesis: In the beginning God moved over the chaos and darkness and said, “Let there be light.”  John says from the very beginning was the Word.  God would speak again; making the Word became flesh to dwell among us, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  That is a big thought and it takes more than one holy day to wrap our minds around its immensity.

I Am LightThis was the year of big dimension presents in our household.  Everyone talked about those big presents for weeks as they sat in the living room around the tree.  The message of Christmas is a big message that requires us to ponder deeply what it means to claim that God does not ignore the darkness, but shines light in the midst of it.  That is a big idea that, need to discuss for at least 12 days, while Lords do some leaping.

The reason we move Christmas behind us so fast is our lives may feel dark either within or around us.  We may feel darkness because Christmas was so different this year; nothing has felt right.  The darkness may be because we lost a job or we are under employed.  The darkness may be connected to our savings dwindling and we feel less secure than ever before.  Some of us feel the loss of family members being overseas or displaced for a variety of reasons.  Others feel the darkness creeping in because of illness they face or grief over the loss of a loved one.  There are many reasons some are glad to have the celebration done with and over.

Several years ago, I was visiting a hospital before Christmas.  I stopped at the front desk to find the room number of a patient.  The woman sitting at the desk stopped their conversation to give me the room number.  When they realized I was a clergy person, one of them asked, “Can you believe that?” and she pointed to the nativity set on the counter.  It took a moment to take in what she was talking about.  She continues, “Somebody stole Jesus.  There was Mary and Joseph, shepherds, donkey and sheep, but no Jesus.  I tried humor: “Maybe he is out in the hospital making rounds, and will be back when he’s done.  Or, maybe the person who took Jesus really needed him.”  They didn’t appreciate my attempt, so I said, “Well, let’s hope they bring him back soon” and I went on my way.Creche Jesus

Christmastide is a season that relishes that Jesus is back.  He has come into the darkness of our lives and shines a light into it and the darkness cannot overcome it.  This is a season to keep the lights burning on our Christmas trees and rooftops because we’ve received the light of the world.  This is a season to let heaven and earth sing as long as they can possibly lift their voice.  This is a season to keep singing the carols that says God has come near us in the midst of the chaos of our lives.  The more we can remind each other Jesus has come to shine a light so we might have life; the more we can be the light of Christ for others.  On this first Sunday after Christmas Day, we are to let the light shine forth in our lives.

In his book, Original Blessing, theologian Matthew Fox writes: “We enter a broken, torn and sinful world–that is for sure.  But, we do not enter as blotches on existence; we burst onto the scene as ‘original blessings.'”  Fox is trying to say, the light of God that comes into the world thru us; asking us to see life differently with a different lens.  We are to declare creation is good, the world we live in is a gift, our bodies are filled with wonder; we are “original blessings?”  To be a human means to be alive; not just marginally alive.  Being alive is not the same as going shopping or making ourselves a comfortable to settle.  Living has something to do with love of life, and the love of others lives and the others rights to life and dignity.

RainbowGod the Creator saw what was created and called it good.  God continues to create and asks us to be stewards over the garden; always seeking the best for all persons, desiring they may truly know life.  At Christmas, we celebrate that creative living Word by moving beyond our unwrapped gifts, to unwrap the good gifts around us that come from the hand of our Creator: the sun and the moon in the sky, this good earth with all its blessings of water, plants, and animals, this incredible gift of the body of flesh and blood, our breath and memory, this day, this moment, and all persons in our lives who share both joy and sorrow, and help us be more fully alive.  Those are bigger gifts than we could ever put under the Christmas tree.

I think we should worry less about Christmas trees in airports and nativity scenes in front of courthouses, and more about how we can make the word genuinely en-fleshed in our hearts, minds, and hands.  We ought to be talking among ourselves how great is the light of Christ in our lives; wondering how we might it shine in our relationships, in our care for the stranger, the jobless, the homeless, those in any need or trouble, among around us?  This is the season to ponder how we will shine the light of the world into our world throughout the coming New Year of 2013. Epiphany

I am going to take a two week preaching break.  The next time I stand in this pulpit we will be celebrating the season of the Epiphany; noting a star leads us to the Savior of the world.  God is still in the business of shining stars, calling us to shine our light into the world.  We started together with a theme that God calls you, me, and the church together to be light bearers.  When I return to the pulpit, I plan to return to our conversation how might we touch the lives of our neighbors with the goodness and grace that we have been blessed with in this place.  After all, the gift of the Word made flesh came to shine a light into our lives.  We can shine that Christmas light out from this place and into our world our year long.  It’s still Christmas!

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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