Clippesby Church and Countryside Norfolk
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Christmas Day

John 1: 1-14

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   He was in the beginning with God.   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.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.   He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.   He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.   The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.   He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.   But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

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.

 

You came. . .

 

"I'll be back soon," a World War II soldier told his wife before leaving her and their infant son. Four years of war and fighting went by. The young mother would show her son a photo of the soldier and say, "This is your daddy this is what he looks like. One day he's going to come home." In reality, she didn't know what to expect.

 

One morning the boy said, "Mummy, wouldn't it be great if Daddy would just step out of the picture frame?"

 

In a sense that is what God did 2,000 years ago. As part of his eternal plan, he stepped out of heaven and became a man, in order that you and I could look at Jesus and say, "That is what God looks like."

 

The apostle John described the stepping out as "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 NIV). This verse is the climax of John's introduction to Jesus by proclaiming his humanity in the midst of his divinity. This verse contains the truth behind the story of the angels and shepherds and the Wise Men and the journey to Bethlehem that first Christmas morning. Without this verse the rest of the story has no meaning. John 1:14 tells us what really happened 2000 years ago-and what it means to us today. The key words are grace and truth. But here is an incredible statement: God became Jesus of Nazareth.

 

When he stepped into the world Jesus Christ became the visible expression of the invisible God. He became a visual aid, as it were, to reveal the nature of the Father. He was God in a suit of flesh. He was God expressing himself in a language that we could understand. He was God announcing to the world: "I have come!" Ponder that for a moment. The love of God now beating in a human heart. The wisdom of God now speaking from human lips. The mercy of God reaching out from human hands. Jesus was God wrapped in human flesh. When he stepped out, Jesus offered the world grace and truth. These are the final two great pair of words John pens as he introduces Jesus to the world. Grace without truth is easily seen as sentimentality while truth without grace can appear to be as inflexible and rigid.

 

Here is the good news for us. Because Jesus is full of grace, we can come to him just as we are. Because he is truth we can come to him in complete confidence knowing that he will keep his promise - a complete pardon for our sins.

 

The one present the world needs to find under the tree this Christmas morning is grace and truth – and we find it in Jesus Christ. Sometimes it is hard to find.

 

 

Two young men on a battlefield in World War II made it to the safety of a foxhole in the midst of enemy fire. As they looked out before them across the battlefield they saw the horror of dead and dying men. One of the young soldiers shouted "Where in this hell is God?" As they continued to watch they saw two medics, identified by the Red Cross on their helmets.  They placed a wounded soldier onto their stretcher, taking him away to safety. As the scene unfolded before them, the other soldier now boldly answered the honest, but piercing question of his friend: "There is God! There is God!"

 

In the act of becoming human Jesus identified with our pain, loneliness, rejection, sadness, mental and physical abuse. When Jesus became a man, he understood us, he identified with us, he felt our pain, and he hurt with us.

 

She was fifteen and he was seventeen when they met, they were married as soon as they could.  Four years later, she was standing in her kitchen with a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, two children at her feet, and a pile of dirty nappies in the corner. Tears were streaming down her face. Looking back, she could never be quite sure why she made the decision, but she did. She walked out.

 

She called that night and her husband answered the phone. He was, understandably, worried and, also, quite angry. "Where are you?" he said, his concern and his anger fighting for control of his voice.

 

"How are the children?" she asked, ignoring his question.

 

"Well, if you mean have they been fed, they are. I've also put them to bed. They are wondering, just as I am, where are you? She hung up.

 

She called every week for the next three months. Her husband, continued to plead with her to come home. He would tell her that he loved her, how much they all missed her and then he would try to find out where she was. Whenever the conversation turned to her whereabouts, she would hang up.

 

Finally, he could stand it no longer. He took their savings and hired a private detective. He traced her to a Bed and Breakfast miles from home. He borrowed money, drove all night, found the Bed and Breakfast, he climbed the stairs to his wife's room.

 

If you had been there, you would have seen the doubt in his eyes and you would have noticed the perspiration on his forehead. His hand trembled as he knocked on the door. When his wife opened the door, he forgot his prepared speech and said, "We love you so much, please come home?"

 

She fell in his arms and they went home together.

 

Some weeks later, he finally got up enough courage to ask the question that had haunted him for so many months. "Why wouldn't you come home? Why, when I told you over and over again that I loved you and missed you, didn't you come home?"

 

"Because," she said with profound simplicity, "before those were only words. But then you came."

 

The prophets gave us words – but Jesus came, God’s gift to humanity – eternal life.

 

May each one of us find the grace and truth that is Jesus – Immanuel, God with us this Christmastide to be our comfort and our joy, our security now and our hope for eternal life. Amen.

 

I wish everyone reading this a very blessed Christmas and all you hope and pray for in the year to come.

Nativity