Second Sunday of Christmas
John 1:1-18 (NRSV)
( 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.
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. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
When I was a little girl I read this passage of scripture. In the innocence of youth, I often asked myself “What was the Word that existed in the beginning with God? What was the Word that created all things with God? What was the Word that lights up the world?”
See, I wanted a literal interpretation; I wanted an actual WORD…
As an adult, I am amazed by the deep theological reflection that I did as a young child. And as a pastor, I have come to believe that there is a literal WORD that exists with God, creates with God, and lights up the world.
The word is LOVE and his name is JESUS.
In today’s Gospel lesson we read that John the Baptist was a harbinger of this WORD, of LOVE, and of Jesus Christ!
And as Christians, this side of the cross, we too get to be harbingers of this WORD, of Love, and of Jesus Christ!
As most of you know, we recently welcomed two new daughters into our home. In an effort to help them acclimate to our family, we posted the family rules on the wall. Actually, as any one of our children will tell you, there is only ONE RULE.
That rule is, “Walk in Love.”
When pressed to explain what this means, my children will recite, “Say loving words. Do loving things.”
I love the innocence of children, who seem to naturally understand what it means to walk in love. As we age, I think we sometimes lose sight of this very valuable lesson.
Yesterday our church had the great honor of hosting the memorial service of Corporal Sean Osterman. He fell in a battle in Afghanistan after being hit by a snipers bullet.
As he was being memorialized, the military chaplain said something that none of us will soon forget. He said, “Many people die OF something, Corporal Osterman died FOR something.”
What an amazing gift to his family, community, and country. He died FOR the pursuit of peace. He died FOR the protection of his loved ones and countrymen. He died FOR the service of all humankind.
This type of selfless service to others is the very definition of love. And although most of us will never render the ultimate sacrifice out of love for others, we can celebrate the lives and legacies of those who have. Today we remember Corporal Osterman, and every single day we remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Although none of us has ever seen God with our eyes, we do SEE GOD in the life and legacy of Jesus Christ who lived, died, and rose again, making the ultimate sacrifice for all people.
Because of his selfless LOVE our sin has been forgiven and we have been gifted with eternal life!
I love the words, “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.”
Isn’t it awesome that Jesus is so full of grace and truth? And as children of God, we are called to walk in love, also full of grace and truth.
Last night, many of us wrote our New Year’s Resolutions. Some may have resolved to lose weight. Others may have resolved to get out of debt. Others may have resolved to seek promotion at work.
But, as Christians, I hope that we also resolved to walk in love. To care more deeply for our spouses and children, to mend a broken relationship, to serve a person in need, to care for a widow or orphan.
I hope that all of us also resolved to draw nearer to God in worship, prayer, and Bible Study and to share our faith with someone who does not yet know that Jesus Christ saves and He saves to the utmost!
I want to close with a lesson I learned in science class as a child. When most of us look up at the night sky, we see the moon "shining." It appears that the moon has a light of its own. But, what we learn from scientists is that the moon does not in fact shine. Instead, it only reflects the light of the sun, giving it the appearance of luminescence.
God is the sun and each of us is a moon. As Christians it is our job to "shine" for Jesus, who is the Light of the world. Although we have no light of our own, we can share the Light and Love of Jesus, by shining love, joy, and peace on everyone whom we meet.It is the greatest gift of all that Jesus Christ, who is the Light of the World, opened the door for us to become the adopted children of God!
All of us who are parents know that for most of us, it is our fondest wish that our children will grow up to be just like us! (giggles)
I expect that God hopes that we will strive to emulate His example. And that we will follow the greatest commandment of all, which is that we would love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but I was profoundly moved by the courage and fortitude of Corporal Osterman’s mother on today. Although there were tears running down her face, she was so proud of her son’s service to his country…
As I watched this mother, I remember thinking to myself, "I hope that each of us will make our Heavenly Father proud as we seek to serve God and humankind as we walk in love today and always"
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen...
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaLta