1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And 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.
Merry Christmas! If you know me, and I've talked to you for more than 5 minutes, then surely you know that I love movies. But this year I was introduced to an older Christmas movie I had never heard of- Fred Clause. Fred Clause is the story of Sant's older brother, who had a love of nature and compassion for her creatures, loved caring for animals and people- but was not however, dubbed a "saint" like his younger brother Nick. Fred grew up in the shadow of his younger brother whose ebullient personality and good deeds far outshined his own good intentions. So when he grew up, he left the North Pole for the city, and got involved with people- not always with the best outcome. As luck would have it, there comes a year when he is needed by St. Nick at the north pole (the Christmas crunch and a back injury has caused Santa to fall behind, and Fred is pressured into taking on the duty of assessing the naughty/nice list.
The problem Is, as Fred goes down the list of children, he can see into their lives- and knew that the behavior which would have them put on the naughty list, came from hurt, or pain, or fear, or rejection, or neglect, or feeling unloved. Though he understands Santa's rules, and who is bad or good, he cant bring himself to label any kid naughty, And in a frenzy, he stamps a big red "NICE"across each file.
When Santa hears the news he flips! "Do you realize what you've done?" he shouts, "You've put every child on the nice list! That's not how it works!"
In the beginning was the word- and the word was with God, and the word was God... (It's how we began he service tonight)All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
2000 years ago the world was much like it is today- many would call it dark- we were a people of have and have nots, of oppressors and oppressed, of privileged and marginalized. The systems of the world determined on which list people were assigned, sometimes determined by birth, sometimes by circumstance, sometimes by behavior. The systems of religion functioned much the same way- the rules were clear in the law- good or bad, clean or unclean, in or out. It was a system of checks and balances, of quid pro quo, and a lot of people made a lot of money and gained a lot of power that way.
Then Jesus was born. The word became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus, with God from the beginning... full of compassion, loved and cared for people, but unlike his younger sister the church, was never dubbed a "saint.' In fact, by the religious elite he was called a glutton, a drunk, and a sinner! Jesus was always breaking the rules- always reinterpreting the laws to reflect love, and forgiveness, and justice, and mercy. The thing is, Jesus could see into people's lives- and knew the behavior which would label them "sinner" came from hurt, or pain, or fear, or rejection, or neglect, or feeling unloved. When Jesus looked at people, he only saw the big red "NICE" stamped across their forehead. And the religious leaders flipped! "Everyone can't be on the nice list! That's not how it works!"
All things came to being through Christ... The light was the light of all people... and the darkness could not overcome It.
Each day we wake up, take a look in the mirror, and determine what we see. We certainly have formulated our own system of how God sees us, based on what we learned about ourselves, or learned about the world, or learned about God. Most of us, if we're honest, would never be dubbed, "saint" by our younger _______ selves, and you can fill in the blank with whatever label or role it is you may have tried to live into- or that people expected you to live up to- or what you thought GOD expected you to live out... No, most of us would not be dubbed saint, yet, inside of each of us, amidst the shadow of misdeeds that far outshine our own good intentions, shines a light. And that light is the light of all people- the light of Christ IN all people- with us- with YOU-from the beginning- a light that no darkness can overcome.
I know how you feel- that deep down Inside there may be a part of you that has been hurt, and neglected, and has been taught to be afraid of breaking the rules, or even feeling unloveable just as you are... I know that maybe the religious systems in your life have told you that you need to behave in a certain way, or not break some set of rules that seems impossible to keep. I know the frustration that comes from living an uphill struggle, only to end up like Sisyphus, being knocked down to the bottom of that hill over and over...
But take heart my beloved congregation of Christ- no matter what you see- no matter what you feel- no matter what you've been taught- that light shines in you- and when God looks at you, that light is what God sees! It's what Jesus came to earth to do- he took out a big red stamp and stamped NICE across your heart! We can live out compassion, and love, and justice, and mercy, and forgiveness, and when we mess up, and we will mess up, guess what? We're STILL on the nice list... in fact there is no behavior you can think of to take you off the nice list! And yes, the world will flip out- "thats not how it works!' My friends, that's exactly how it works... God loves you with an everlasting love- God's faithfulness is to all generations- God put the light of Christ in us and bound us by the Holy Spirit- you are God's masterpiece!!!
And every time you walk to the mirror, or walk out into the world, that light that shines in all people, is brighter than any darkness that can come against it. Merry Christmas my friends.