It may be Christmas Day but it is still a Friday, which means my compulsion to blog. (I should seek counselling for OCB).
Serependitiously (now that’s an adverb I rarely use) I now realise that several folk following Sunday’s carol service asked me for quotes from my sermon. So as a means of saving time and so that I can make it to the 8.00 service of Holy Communion on time, I now paste and edit:
Today we celebrate the astonishing claim, as made by John in the prologue to his Gospel, “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14)
That the God of all creation should come amongst us as one of us is really remarkable. As Charles Wesley composed, that he should be “pleased as man to man to dwell.”
That the God of all creation should come to us as the babe of Bethlehem.
Space in the news at the moment with Major Tim Peake taking his place in the international space station.
At his press conference 250 miles aloft, he reflected: “But what people don’t mention that much is when you look in the opposite direction (away from earth) and you see how dark space is. It is just the blackest black and that was a real surprise to me.”
What he is seeing, or not seeing, is billions of galaxies in the vastness of space, in a universe much too big for our minds to comprehend.
This year we have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, his insight that creation is too wonderful for our minds can grasp. We continue to discover just how little we do know about God’s handiwork.
In fact, we cannot account for 95% of matter he made. We think it is there but we don’t know what it is.
We can only marvel that the one who made all this should come among us as one of us.
But the Bible comes to the incarnation from a different direction, not from the wonder of sheer scale but the awe, fear even, of the otherness of God. Such is God’s intense holiness and overwhelming beauty, we cannot stand in his presence and survive the encounter.
God, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, is Holy, Holy, Holy.
And yet the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Bishop Augustine of Hippo, marvels:
Man’s maker was made man
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that Truth might be accused of false witnesses,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.”
Amazing that this Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Our response to all this?
There is one quote which oversees my own life, one that determined how I should live, from CS Lewis
“Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
Such is the wonder of incarnation, the message of Christmas. If true it cannot be moderately important. We can’t just say “Well, that’s interesting!”
If it is false, we can just dismiss him but if Jesus is the person he claims to be, he is of infinite importance. We need to listen, our total imperative; we must know what he expects of us. No less.
What does he expect?
To receive him, to believe in his name,
So that through him we might become children of God, that we simple and sinful human beings may enter into a relationship of love with our creator. With the God who came to us as one of us
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Enjoy his day!