A sermon for Christmas Day

This is my (brief) sermon for Christmas Day, preached this morning at Christ Church.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us”

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The story of Christmas is breathtaking. We might think we know the story. Last night we heard the familiar parts of the story from Luke’s Gospel: the angels, the shepherds, the manger, Mary, Joseph, and “glory to God in the highest”.

None of that is in today’s Gospel. But, still, we hear the Christmas story in John’s beautiful, poetic prologue.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

You see, the Christmas story is bigger than a manger, or at least it began long before the manger. The Christmas story began before the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary the Good News of her part in the salvation of the world. The Christmas story began at the moment of creation.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

God was in love with this creation from the moment of its birth. Bringing light into darkness, God was birthing this world of ours into being. In the vastness of space, God planted a seed of life on this planet we call earth. And on this lush planet, God created women and men in the divine image, so that we might join creation in praising God.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

The Christmas story includes all this: the birth of creation and the birth of humanity.  The Christmas story continues with the gift of our freedom, our fall from communion with God, and generation after generation of prophets.

It’s not the angels and shepherds, but it is very much the Christmas story. The Christmas story is truly a story about grace: the gift of God’s love in the world. And the Christmas story is about humanity giving birth to the divine.

Some 700 years ago Meister Eckhart put it like this: “We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born.”

This wondrous story, this gift, is not something we are meant to receive and to hoard for ourselves. God’s hope is that we will share this Christmas gift, the real gift of Christmas, with the whole world. We are all called to give birth to God.

About sixteen centuries ago, John Chrysostom preached about this vast Christmas story:

For this he assumed my body, that I may become capable of his Word; taking my flesh, he gives me his spirit; and so he bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; he gives me his Spirit, that he may save me.

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been implanted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.

Today, let us take our part in the Christmas story, which began long before the manger and which continue even until today, here in Lincoln.

The Word made flesh is full of grace and truth. Grace is God’s love among us, opening the way from earth to heaven and from heaven to earth. The truth is that God’s love for us and for all creation is boundless.

Let us do our part to bring God’s grace into the world. Let us all, like Mary, be God-bearers.

Where there is fear, let us proclaim hope. Where there is hatred, let us proclaim love. Where there are outcasts, let us reach out and invite. Where there is poverty, let us share abundantly.

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” Amen.

Illustration is the beginning of the Gospel of John from the Book of Kells.

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