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God's Light is Dawning
a sermon based on all lessons, esp. John 1:1-14
by HW in HI

Does anyone know what day it is?  Right – this is the third day of Christmas. Does anyone remember what you’re supposed to get on the third day of Christmas? I think it’s three geese-a-laying – isn’t it? Okay, just one more question: how many days are there of Christmas tide – that’s what we call the season: Christmas tide. Right – there are 12. What comes next is Epiphany.

So here we are on the third day of Christmas. And once again, the church is out of step with the rest of the world. Everywhere there is after Christmas sales. People are already taking down trees, putting away stockings. And if you think it’s extreme today – just wait until the 12 day of Christmas – no questions – I’ll tell you this time – the 12th day of Christmas is January 5th. Just wait, and see if anyone is celebrating.

That is the way, isn’t it: the church is a little out-of-step, a little different. I have a friend on the mainland, a Methodist minister who is also a mom, and every year she gets everything ready for Christmas before Thanksgiving, so she and her family can really experience Advent, knowing that Christmas will be stress-free. And then they celebrate Christmas all the way until January 5th.

I envy her and her family. I would love to do that. But in Hawaii it just doesn’t work, for 2 pretty good reasons:

1. If you wait until December 24th to get your Christmas tree, you will go without. 2. The local culture says to get everything put away, and the house spick and span for New Years. 3. When we lived on Oahu, the free tree pick-up for recycling ended before January 5th. That’s not a Big Island reason – I get it, but it was real enough last year.

Also, let’s face it – I’m just not that organized. I live like everyone else, with one foot firmly in the secular world, and trying like crazy to keep one foot in the sacred world. Some days, it is a stretch.

Okay, so here we are, on the third day of Christmas, living in two worlds. Let’s not worry about it. Does anyone here have any unopened Christmas presents? Are you going to open them? Of course you are.

This morning I want to talk about another unopened present: Jesus Christ.

I say that because Jesus was and is really a gift to us. God gave us the gift of Jesus. But it is a gift that we sometimes forget to open. Now Jesus looks pretty good, all wrapped up in shiny paper sitting under the tree?

What I mean is, it is easy for us to let Jesus be a pretty Christmas symbol for us. And it is a whole lot easier to leave things like that. But if God went to the trouble to join us on earth, it is probably worth our effort to spend a little time pondering the mystery.

The Gospel of John is often called the Fourth Gospel. Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the same story, sometimes in a different order, but pretty much the same story. Well, John tells the same story, too, but very differently. Today we heard, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” It goes on to tell us, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Well, let’s open the gift a little and figure what we’ve got.

The idea of the “word of the Lord” can be found in the Old Testament (Hosea and Joel). The Hebrew means more than “spoken word”, also “event, or act”. The 33 Psalm tells us that “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made.”

So what? Okay fair enough. Here’s what I think: John is telling us that Jesus existed before time, as the Word. And the word was the action by which God got things done. The Word was there as part of God. But when God had had it, and decided to get involved in things on earth “up close and personally” – then it was God the Word that became Jesus.

So instead of saying ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ we could say: ‘Father, Word and Holy Spirit’.

Let’s try that:

“In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.” “And Jesus became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

When people say “Word of Life” – they’re talking about Jesus. Also when we see “Logos” that’s Greek for Word which we now know means Jesus.

So we have part of God which had always existed – part of God became flesh. What kind of present is this?

I want to suggest to us all this morning that this is the really great gift. This is the gift that was too big, too wonderful to put on our lists, too much to hope for. This is the gift that didn’t break the day after Christmas. This is the gift that wasn’t the wrong color. This is the gift that didn’t arrive a day too late. Because God wasn’t relying on the US Postal Service, and God wasn’t relying on UPS and God wasn’t relying on Federal Express. This is the just right gift that fits you – guaranteed. The right color, the right size. Unbreakable.

Let’s get Jesus out of the gift box. He’s the gift we forgot to ask for because we didn’t know we could ask for him. We got him anyway. Forget the after Christmas sales and the exchanges. God gave us the real thing. Thank God! Amen.