December 25, 2023

The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Christmas Day – December 25, 2023

The Rev. R. Allan McCaslin

Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14

From the Gospel according to John, “…And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” I speak to you in the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

A very Merry Christmas to you all! One of things I enjoy about our simple gatherings here for prayer and reflection on Christmas morning is that, for me, now that hubbub of the season is drawing to a close, I can begin to revel in the quiet beauty of this moment in time. I think this morning’s quiet is an accurate reflection of the events that transpired at that first Christmas. I picture Joseph, Mary, and the baby quietly huddled in that stable. Perhaps Jesus uttered a newborn’s cry every so often and there’d be the muffled sounds of cattle hooves pressing against straw and hay, but quiet seems to permeate this scene. Shepherds whom, St, Luke tells us, came at the behest of a glorious company of angels singing and praising God come to this stable in utter silence and awe for, “The Word is made flesh and lives among us.”

Our reading from the Gospel according to John describes the great mystery and awe of God’s presence among us. “The Word” – God who created all that is seen and unseen, John says, at Bethlehem “became flesh and lived among us” as one of us. In the years that followed this birth, it will be revealed that he came to redeem us, to restore, and to reveal the glorious and great love of God for all creation. He came as the light of the world. He came, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, to comfort God’s people – all those who choose to walk in God’s ways and live by God’s values – he came to fulfill God’s promises of redemption to God’s people, promises made since the days of Eden. He comes to reveal God’s salvation. And all of it unfolded before the very eyes of those first century Christians just as they continue to unfold before our own eyes today, when “the Word was made flesh and lived among us.”    

     In my own journey of faith I have encountered countless moments when the Word, indeed, was made flesh and lived with me, and showed me the way and helped my journey. There were times when I was clearly heading in the wrong direction, making what I thought were good choices, but, in reality, those choices were leading me away from God’s ways, God’s values. And time after time someone would quietly appear to offer some insight, an encouraging word, a suggestion to wait, to listen, to pray. And it changed my path! Because in that moment, in that person, “the Word was made flesh and lived among us.”

I know that in your own faith journeys many of you have witnessed and experienced the same - that Word made flesh and living in your midst, being present to you. For the truth of Christmas is that we can still see the Word made flesh. We can see him in friend and stranger, in the hungry and needy, in the person next to us or in the next pew. For he who was and is the Light of World said, “As you have done to the least of these, so you have done to me.”

This is the great news of Christmas: The Word made flesh at Bethlehem, that Word who came to redeem, that Word made flesh still lives among us and promises if we will seek him, we will, indeed, find him. 

And so, in these quiet moments of this hushed Christmas morning, I invite you to listen for that presence of the eternal Word of God – that Word made flesh: Jesus the Christ whose birth we are invited to embrace and celebrate not only this morning, but each and every day of our lives. Amen.