Christmas Day- Sunday, December 25, 2022
THE WHOLE STORY
The Rev. Mark D. Wilkinson, Rector
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Christmas Morning 2022
Last night we celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus. Today we celebrate the Cosmic Christ of John. This is why the gospel for today is the Prologue from the Gospel of John. For in reality no Christmas is complete without both Jesus and the Cosmic Christ. They are inextricably linked and we cannot comprehend one without the other for they are two sides of the same coin.
One afternoon I had taken a break from the office and was working on my storytelling. When I got home I happened to catch this picture from my little home altar.
For me this image captures perfectly what the Christmas services are about both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You see we miss half the message when we do not do a service on Christmas Day. Here we have the holy family which is an olivewood carving from Bethlehem standing next to a lighted oil lamp from Taize France, which as I look at it stands in as the Christ Candle. That symbolizes the light that comes into the world. This is the light that is referenced in our gospel today.
What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Jesus is that light and in a world filled with darkness this light is hope because the dark cannot overcome this light. The King James translation says, “the darkness comprehended it not.” This photo puts it all together, the incarnation of Jesus and the eternal creative force we know as Christ.
The problem is that most walk away from Christmas this year or any year with thoughts of the cute little baby so helpless and small. Christ, the Word is so much more that this, but the baby is an image we can wrap our brains around. The challenge on Christmas as with Advent is we have been looking at both the birth of Jesus and the coming, no the in-breaking of the kingdom into our reality. This Advent we heard quite a bit about John the Baptist. The words of prophesy about both John the Baptist and the one for whom he was preparing the way. And that is the Christ in this morning’s gospel. The savior, the Messiah, the Lord as Gabriel proclaims in his message to the Virgin Mary and to the shepherds. He is both the baby and he is the light.
The Synoptic Gospels are all about the human Jesus. John is much more concerned with the eternal Christ, the cosmic Christ. John’s Jesus is not nearly as human as the other gospels. He clearly knows who he is from the start and is clearly on a mission as the Son of God. The Jesus in John does signs, not miracles in John’s language. His gospel is filled with the circular talk I am in the Father and the Father is in me and because you are in me and I am in him etc. that makes most of our heads spin. That is because John is trying to describe with words something that can really only be experienced. This is the mystic Christ that Paul encounters on the road in his conversion experience.
Now in the original story I wrote for last night and told at both services I was very careful in how I cast the role of Jesus and Christ in relation to our understanding of God. The most important point is to see God as a God of love.
First of all let’s start with concept that Jesus was not God’s plan B because we had sinned in the Garden. The concept of original sin dates back to St. Augustine and was not a key part of early church theology. The Franciscan theology teaches that Jesus took on human nature (this is more than simply saying he became flesh) not to change God’s mind about us and prevent him sending us all to hell, but to change our minds about God. To open our minds to the fact that the kingdom is close and to be honest has always been close. We just have never done a very good job of recognizing it.
This was a big part of the conversation in my story last night between God and Gabriel. God was explaining this to Gabriel because God was about to do something totally unexpected in the incarnation of Jesus.
One of the videos I used this Advent spoke of how God broke open the circle of the Trinity and invited Mary in to become part of the dance as Jesus’ mother. It is important to realize that there is always an invitation from the Trinity for us to join in the Divine Dance as well. The dance that Jesus, the human Jesus came to invite us to enter. However as you leave the manger, the church this Christmas morning consider that the baby who is also the light has a place at his table for you to come and join in this divine dance of love. So may you dance your way out of this service and into the world, knowing that you are part of that light that the darkness cannot overcome.
Here is the question to ponder this morning. How can we, like John, point to Christ? There are many ways we can do so. The ways we speak and act can either point others to God’s grace in Christ or turn others away from the community of the church. Do we greet the stranger, visit the sick, and care for the needy in ways that show our lives have been changed by God’s love for us, by the light that banishes our darkness? Have we taken the time to call the elderly parent, to go out of our way for a struggling coworker, or to do something for the important people in our lives that would say, “You are God’s gift, and I see God’s light in you”?
For you see if we go back to the first picture you will see that in the background is my walking stick. For this is a message that is too wonderful to be kept inside the church. Be the light to the world that you are called to be, pick up your walking stick and go out into the world to bring the light to all who need it.
 Klink, A. (2010). Pastoral Perspective on John 1:1‒14. In D. L. Bartlett & B. B. Taylor (Eds.), Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year A (Vol. 1, p. 142). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.