Sermon; Christmas Day
My wife and I are friends (although her more than I) with several people who have had babies in the few days before Christmas. Our Facebook feeds have been populated – no pun intended – with pictures of newborn children and happy parents.
I read somewhere once that, to children, we are the image of God. We feed and protect the child. We unconditionally love the child. And, without knowing the details, the child innately knows that he/she came from, was created by, the parents.
Many years ago, though, I preached a sermon about how, as a parent, that image had been reversed. In looking at those photos online I was reminded of my own infant daughter. I was reminded that the image of God was in the face of that newborn child. I was reminded of the feeling that I would be totally devoted to that child and of the love I had for that child. I was reminded of the light that child shined on my life.
Christmas Day is one of the few days in the church year where we ALWAYS get the same gospel reading. Every year on this day we hear from the opening of John's gospel:
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 in 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.
Last night I preached about weakness and vulnerability – especially in relation to how the omnipotent, eternal God, creator of all that is, seen and unseen, came to earth through a vulnerable young woman as a weak and vulnerable child. And I think about how these Christmas babies, along with my own infant daughter, intersects with this reading from John.
Babies have the ability to capture our hearts. From the love we feel while watching her sleep to being amused at his tiny fists and little tongue when he yawns. From wanting to play with his tiny fingers or gobble up her tiny toes. From holding him protectively in our arms to the feeling of pure joy when she laughs. Babies capture our hearts and light up the world around us. These tiny, weak, and vulnerable creatures have a way of bringing light and joy.
But not always, right? Because there are diapers, feeding issues, crying fits, sleepless nights, and the like. Which makes me wonder if Jesus was a colicky baby. Did Joseph ever have to strap his newborn son to the donkey and go walk around the neighborhood to get him to stop crying or put him to sleep?
Even so, there are days and nights that do look like a creche set where the babe sleeps peacefully and loving parents look on in awe and wonder. It's in those moments when the words of John's gospel come back: What has come into being was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Life is fragile. We are weak and vulnerable creatures. But being made in the image of God we also carry within us the light of God. We are not THE light, but we carry a spark of that light. And like John the Baptist, we can testify to the light.
On this Christmas Day let us remember the joy a newborn baby gives. On this Christmas Day let us remember the infant Jesus, weak and vulnerable, who brought the light of God into the world. On this Christmas Day let us remember that we have that light within us. On this Christmas Day, let us work to show God's unconditional love to the world. Let us testify to the light. Let us help drive away the power of darkness.
Because when the light shines, darkness cannot overcome it.