In the beginning was the Word. (John 1:1).
In case we missed it in all the nativity detail, the opening words of John’s gospel remind us that we are in the presence of God. Genesis tells us that In the beginning, God created ….., (Genesis 1:1) and John has clearly paralleled these words to emphasise that the story about to unfold is the God story. The Word was, and is, God. This Word has become flesh, biologically human, and lived among us. God has become one of us.
This is not just God coming to earth, to live like a mortal human. God, the creator and sustainer of all, has actually become one of us – one of his creatures. He has done so as a result of his own conscious, deliberate intent. This is not an accident, this is deliberate.
John does not give us a Jesus nativity story, his Jesus, as in Mark’s account, first appears at the Jordan river, where John was baptizing. It is from Luke and Matthew we hear about Jesus’ birth. When God became human, he experienced the full cycle of human life: development in the womb, birth, childhood, adolescence, adulthood; then death. That death is not the end.
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. (John 1: 11-13)
Amidst the familiar images of the Holy family and their guests, amidst our familiar Christmas fare, remember this: this is the coming of God, to us, in person. Born to suffer and die, to raise us to new life with him. Christmas is, rightly, a time for great celebration. It is a time, also, to reflect on the enormity of what is happening. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)
As we enter a new year, one which looks set to be every bit as challenging as the last one; do we believe in him; and believing, what does that mean for our daily living?
Rev’d Philip Payne
New Year 2023
The Notice Sheet for 31st December can be found here