Love Has Come
Dec 25, 2022
Text: John 1:1-14
Pastor Jean M. Hansen
We invited the children among us to wear PJ’s to worship as a way to add to today’s festiveness (and also make it easier for families to get here on time.) I admit, I was tempted to wear mine too, but had visions of my purposely too big, and thus comfortable, pajama bottoms ending up around my ankles, causing me to trip while serving Holy Communion and creating a memorable “you will never believe what happened in church today” story. Also, wearing PJ’s might encourage too much relaxation, since the clothes we wear reflect what we are going to do.
For example, had you been one of those unfortunate (crazy) people who went to the Cleveland Browns game yesterday (on Christmas Eve in 5 degrees?), you would have worn 101 layers of clothes and stood the whole time, being unable to bend your arms or legs. In other words, you would have dressed for the occasion.
Clothes may reflect our activity, some would say they make the person, but they do not change who we are. Today’s poetic reading from the Gospel of John reminds us how true that was for Jesus. “And the word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory….” (vs. 14)
When God put on human flesh, becoming incarnate as Jesus, God did not stop being who God was. It is a concept that both astounds and befuddles us. That’s because it is a cosmic point-of-view; the Word existed in the beginning, participated in creating all that exists, shattering the darkness of chaos. As commentator Aaron Klink notes, “In the beginning are not our wishes, hopes, dreams and plans, but God, and God’s Word, and God’s love toward the world that God chose to create.” (1) That Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of truth and grace.
As ELCA pastor William Flippin describes it, “…the logos (word) became like us and donned a robe of human flesh, experienced the pang of hunger, suffered the trauma of thirst, endured the agony of loneliness, tolerated the shame of nakedness, faced the struggle of poverty, encountered the humiliation of blasphemy, in order that he might reveal to us the splendor of God’s eternal glory. The logos came to display God’s love. (2)
Before today’s Gospel lesson was read we sang two verses of the hymn, “Love Has Come,” which is a simple and yet theologically profound hymn. Listen to the verse we did not sing: “Love has come and never will leave us! Love is life everlasting and free. Love is Jesus within and among us. Love is the peace our hearts are seeking. Love! Love! Love is the gift of Christmas. Love! Love! Praise to you, God on high!” (3)
God dressed in human flesh not to become less, but to be our Savior. God became one of us out of love for us, love that is ours even when we do not receive it and refuse to return it. That is grace, and grace clings to the Word made flesh; it is the Divine essence. Imagine grace as an eternal light that shines in Jesus’ eyes, light that brightens the darkness and cannot be overcome.
Everywhere we look this time of year we see decorative lights – on trees, wreaths, homes and shinning from battery operated candles in windows. We enjoy their beauty, but might we also let the lights remind us how Jesus has become the light in our lives? No doubt, we all have situations, or loved ones have them, that need the Lord’s light. It shines among us now - the true light, that enlightens everyone, that has come into the world.
It is as if an artist painted a bleak picture of a winter scene. It depicted a storm sweeping across the countryside. Over in the corner there was a cabin, but it still looked dead and hopeless. But with one small stroke, that painter dramatically transformed that picture. He took the tip of his brush, dipped it in gold paint, touched one window of the cabin, and the golden glow from that cabin transformed that picture from coldness to invitation to come in, from a picture of death to life, from a picture of gloom to gladness. (4)
That is the effect on our lives and our world that occurred when God put on human flesh in order to be our Savior. The light of grace shines from him, dispersing darkness that threatens but cannot overcome us. Indeed, love has come. AMEN
Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 1, David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, editors, pg. 140
“John 1:1-14 – The Word that Walked Around” by William E. Flippin, Dec. 18, 2011
Lyrics of “Love Has Come”, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, #292
“Jesus Came to Be the Light”, by Bob Russell, www.preachingtoday.com