And the Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us
Topic: Biblical Verse: John 1:1–1:14
The Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas Day)
St. John's Lutheran Church, Alexandria, VA
“And the Word Became Flesh and Dwelt Among Us”
It’s Christmas Day! It’s finally here! This is a day on which people all around the world are gathering to celebrate something that brings them together, something that connects them to each other. How connected are you? If someone wanted to get in touch with you, how could they do so? Take just a moment and think about that. In the past few days, you might have had to get on the phone or text family and friends to confirm your travel arrangements so that everyone could get to where they’d planned on going. You might have used Twitter or Facebook to share updates on what you’ve been doing – even posting pictures of the presents you’ve given or received. And even if you’ve never touched a smartphone and still have a rotary dial landline for your home phone, I suspect that someone has still connected with you through Christmas cards in the mail. We’re living in a pretty connected time and place. So why do so many people feel so disconnected?
It’s Christmas Day! But for a lot of folks, celebrating Christmas doesn’t involve being in a church for Christmas services or gathering together to hear the history of Jesus’ birth. Some who find themselves in a church might be there because it’s part of the ritual of the season, even if it doesn’t mean much to them – that goes for Christians, too. You could be doing a lot of other things today, so why are you here? Are you feeling disconnected? Hey, it’d be a great Christmas surprise if you weren’t!
It’s Christmas Day, and our opening hymn probably should have been “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithless.” That’s a more accurate description of what you and I are like most days. Despite all those tools out there which allow facilitate connection to the people around you, it’s still really easy to feel like you’re not connecting – in fact, that’s our default state for being human. It’s not so much that we don’t want to connect; it’s just that we more interested in ourselves than in anyone else. Our inward focus interferes with relationships with family and friends, it makes strangers and enemies. Even more significantly, it blocks a relationship with God, the one connection which is a foundation for every other relationship and aspect of human life. On this Christmas Day, God wants to give you the gift of being connected.
Take a look back at our Gospel reading from John 1. You heard that the Word who was with God and who was Himself God created all things. The light shined on the darkness by the speaking of the Word, creating space and time out of nothing. You heard that this Word entered into His creation to be a part of it. Now think about this: the Word, God the Son, was there bringing creation into being – not the human being that we know as Jesus of Nazareth. But the Word became flesh, born as a little baby in Bethlehem, that same Jesus of Nazareth. The light shined on the darkness once again as God took on humanity for Himself. Christmas celebrates a universe-changing event! It is a great and mighty wonder, because the only Son from the Father has pitched his tent with you and me and all humanity! In the centuries before Jesus was born, God dwelled in his people in a tent, the tabernacle. But now, God is with us as one of us. Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today, is God’s gift to you. Jesus was born so that God and humanity would never be separated again.
In a short while, we’ll be confessing the faith which connects us today as we speak the words of Martin Luther’s Explanation of the Second Article of the Creed. Listen to the good news which John shared in his Gospel and hear why God took on humanity for Himself as you say, “All this He has done that I may be His own;” know that Jesus is God’s gift to you. God wants you to live life with Him so much that He made all the effort Himself. The Word became flesh to dwell among us to connect disconnected people with God – and with each other – entirely out of grace.
To know God, you have to know Jesus. The baby born in Bethlehem would go on to teach about what it means to live with God, to be a part of His kingdom in the life that you live now and into the age to come. But even more importantly, that baby boy would go on to live the perfect life before his Father in heaven that no one of us could ever live. He surrendered that life on a cross in your place and my place, taking all our disconnected-ness into himself. Because that baby boy was the Word made flesh, the only Son from the Father, you and I can look to the manger and the cross and know God. Jesus is the one who is full of grace and truth, the ultimate expression of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.
Through Jesus, you get to be connected. And when I say that, know that this connection isn't a virtual one, like that made possible by the technology around us. This Christmas Day, everyone who comes to the Lord’s table in faith to receive the great gift of Holy Communion will be connected with God. Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us, is with us once again in his body and blood in, with, and under the bread and the wine. And he’s here for you. Jesus, the Word made flesh, is here to bring light and life to disconnected people, to pitch his tent in this time and this place. He is here with you, you who God has made to be His children through the gift of faith. Through Jesus, you get to be connected with the people who gather with you under the cross around the altar, and you get to be connected with all the people who have gone before us in the faith. Jesus reconnects the disconnected.
It’s Christmas Day! Today, we celebrate the light of Christ shining on the darkness of our disconnected lives. Today, we give thanks for the birth of the Savior who brings us together. The Word has come into the world to connect you with God and restore broken and faithless relationships, to bring you life. Your life was never meant to be compartmentalized, where one part of it doesn’t affect the others. The different aspects of who you are and what you do are all connected. The life that you have from Jesus is the foundation for everything else, and it’s there to support and influence every aspect, every connection, bringing grace and truth to bear where you need it most. Jesus brings it all together.
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, for you. “Now sing we, now rejoice! Now raise to heav’n our voice; He from whom joy streameth poor in a manger lies; Not so brightly beameth the sun in yonder skies.” Blessed Christmas to you!