The Nativity of Our Lord – Christmas Day
“Jesus Christ is the Light of the World”
Seminarian Paul Norris, Vicar
St. John 1.1-14
25 December 2021
Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In his over-exuberance for the Christmas holidays, Clark Griswold worked feverishly. He was filled with excitement as he knew that the Christmas holidays would bring all the things he loved. Family, a Christmas meal, and most of all, his long-anticipated Christmas bonus so he could build a swimming pool. One of Clark’s most favorite Christmas activities was decorating his house with Christmas lights. Clark wanted to have the best and brightest Christmas light display and he decorated his house with 250 strands of 100 count incandescent lights. That’s 25,000 lights. Based on today’s dollars, running those incandescent lights for just five hours a day for 31 days would cost over $6000! But Clark missed the point of Christmas. His family nearly freezes to death trying to saw down a gigantic Christmas tree, and when he finds out he’s not getting a Christmas bonus he has a meltdown and destroys his beloved Christmas light display. It all goes very wrong.
Perhaps we can learn from Clark’s mistakes. You might notice today that the paraments are white, all the Advent wreath candles are lit, and the Christmas tree is brightly illuminated. There is a lot of light here this morning. That is no accident. This abundance of light signifies what God has told us about his only begotten Son Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 4-5). Although man has erected electric lights to help him see at night, even the brightest man-made light cannot overcome darkness. From outer space, the bright lights of cities created by man are visible. But in the darkness of space, the absence of light is always pressing in on the feeble man-made light. If the electric power grid were to fail, the earth would immediately plunge into darkness. Darkness always tries to overcome the light.
The darkness of Satan and sin creeps into our lives and tries to take the light from us. Even now our world seems so dark. The shadow of the pandemic hangs over the world. We are daily barraged by the darkness of “wokeness” as Satan tells the lie that males can be females, and vice versa. Why you can be any one of the 76 alleged different genders. Satan is trying to destroy the truth of God’s good creation. You can even claim to be an inanimate object prompting many to say ridiculous things like, “I self-identify as a boat.” Satan is also trying to steal the meaning of Christmas. Our nation and the world are gripped with mass consumerism focused on material possessions which deflect attention from Jesus Christ and the real meaning of Christmas. We see the darkness of sin in the wickedness of the world. Darkness even creeps into the lives of God’s children, it presses in on us from all sides. Living in the darkness of sin, we are destined for only one outcome; Eternal death and separation from God.
But the opposite of darkness and death is light and life. Jesus Christ, the very Word of creation, is the true light who shines upon all mankind. Jesus Christ is the light that no darkness can overcome! Jesus shines so brightly that darkness will never overtake him. This is what we celebrate today. Today the Only-begotten Son of the Father humbled himself, was born of a virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit, and came to earth as God and man. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,..”(John 1:14a) Jesus, the very One who created this earth, was dropped down into the middle of it. Our text says that Jesus “dwelt” among us. That is another way of saying he tabernacled or pitched his tent. It’s as if God was saying, “I Am Here.” Just as God had his presence in the tabernacle among the Israelites, in his incarnation Jesus dwells among us in the flesh.
Jesus, the only begotten Son of God became man and dwelt among us. He suffered the same temptations we did. He experienced the same human emotions as us. Only He obeyed the law perfectly, and he died the perfect sinless death to pay the ransom price for you. In the incarnation of the only begotten son of God, the light of Christ shines brilliantly from his cross. On the cross Christ, the crucified one became the curse for you and paid the full debt of sin for you. Jesus bore all of your sins. Christ carried all your sins on the cross. And by his resurrection, he defeated sin, death, and the devil for you. He accomplished all things in perfection. It is only by His perfect work on the cross and by his resurrection from the dead that you are judged not guilty. Jesus became the “Son of Man” so that you could be “children of God.”
Today, the best revelation of God in his incarnation is in word and sacrament. “…we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (v.14b) John the Evangelist was probably one of the last living witnesses of Christ on earth when he wrote his gospel, and we now behold Christ’s glory through his word and means. In your baptism, you were born from above with water and the word. Your identity in Christ has nothing to do with your cultural lineage, your human desire, or your works. God chose you. (John 15:16) God’s name was placed upon you in Holy Baptism and you have been marked as his. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives to you his true body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins which was won for you on the cross. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are for you!
Christ has always been and will always be the Life and the Light. From the beginning, even before his birth, Jesus is the Word that created everything. When he humbled himself and was born of a virgin, he became the Light and life of mankind, and will ever remain so for eternity. Jesus shines on us at all times, all his creatures. He shines upon us in the Holy Scriptures and in all his saints, prophets, and ministers in his Word and works. Christ has never ceased to shine. We know who God is by looking at Christ, and we shall see him with our own eyes on the Last Day. Today we remember Jesus’ first advent when he came to save mankind bringing us Light and Life. Truly, Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God is with us!
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.