Most of this sermon is not original with me. I read a bunch and found myself going back again and again to a sermon written by the Rev. Richard J. Fairchild, a priest in British Columbia. I can claim most of the first paragraph and a small section toward the end where I toot St. Mark’s horn. The rest is Richard Fairchild’s.
We know “The Night before Christmas.” We know the story of the little drummer boy. There’s that Bing Crosby movie – White Christmas. But John does it so succinctly. He summarizes the Christmas story this way: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. In essence, that’s the Christmas story. What a gift.
The Word became flesh; the Word took on human form and lived among us, full of grace and truth.
Jesus is the incarnate word; he is the Word made flesh, the word of God, the word of love, the word of truth and grace and beauty.
He is the one who is the love of God in human form.
Jesus is the human form of God’s forgiveness; he is the human form of God’s mercy, he is the human form of God’s justice, he is the human form of God’s truth, he is the human form of God’s love.
This is the Christmas story – the word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
God, so that he could help us, decided to walk among us and to live with us, as one of us – born of human parents, nurtured at a human breast, and working at human tasks until he died a human death.
God among us, God made flesh, God for us – in Jesus Christ.
What is remarkable about the Christmas story is not just that God chose to place all his glory, all his beauty, and all his truth in a human form, though that is remarkable enough – it is that he chose such a simple human being in which to take on flesh.
God’s Word, the Word that was at the beginning of all things, and without which nothing that was made was made, could have been born of a royal princess, but it did not.
God’s Word, made flesh, could have taken on the form of a philosopher, wise and full of truth, living in some imperial palace or ivory tower, but it did not.
No, God’s Word, the Word made flesh, was a simple word – a word made manifest, a word made visible in a simple human being, born to a simple peasant woman, and cared for by a simple carpenter in a land that time still seems to have forgotten.
The Word made flesh, the Word of God, is found in all its fullness in a babe who had to lie in a manger in a cold stable because there was no room for him at the inn.
The Word made flesh, the Word of God, is found in a child who, while obedient to his parents, still argued with his teachers, and got lost in the city at the time of his Bar Mitzvah.
The Word made flesh, the Word of God, is found in all its fullness in a young man who wandered the countryside, teaching the teachers, healing the sick, eating with sinners, and forgiving those who needed forgiving.
Jesus was the Word of God in its fullness, and yet – and yet – it was a Word that had no home to call its own; it was a Word that was denied, and betrayed, and finally killed in the hope that it would not be seen or heard again.
God’s Word took on flesh and dwelt among us – it lived among us first within the body of a simple woman, and then in the body of a simple man. And that Word was both accepted and rejected, but IN rejection, and then later IN death, it could not be destroyed.
This is the Christmas story, and it is a story that continues today, because the Word of God is an eternal Word, it is a lasting Word, it is an undefeatable Word.
Jesus, the Word of God, is still among us. He is here as spirit, teaching his followers that which they need to know, comforting his disciples with a comfort that they need, and leading them to the truth that they need to know.
And what is the truth we need to know? Where is the Word for us today?
It is in the same place it was when Jesus walked among us. It is in the acts of love that his followers perform. It is in the mercy that his disciples give to others. It is in the truth that they utter. It is in the justice that they struggle for. It is in the forgiveness that they bestow.
God’s Word is still made flesh today, much in the way that it was made flesh in Jesus.
God’s Word takes on flesh when we bring our offerings to the table to be blessed and given for the needs of others. God’s word takes on flesh when we offer meals and home-baked cookies to the homeless and hungry. When sack lunches are delivered under the bridge. When we visit prisoners in jails and residents in nursing and retirement homes. God’s Word becomes flesh when doors to warm places are opened on unbearably cold nights.
The Word of God took on flesh in a unique and tremendous way in Jesus of Nazareth, and it takes on flesh today wherever the Word is believed and done.
God’s Word wears human flesh in those who follow the risen Word, in those who obey the risen Lord, in those who heed the living God.
And as it was in Jesus, where the word was found in a simple man, born to simple parents, so the word today is found, found in flesh, in simple acts of love and kindness.
The Word takes on flesh in those who heal, in those who forgive, in those who teach, in those who seek justice, in those who share, and in those who show mercy.
Thanks be to God. Amen