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Delivered By
Pr. David Fleener
Delivered On
December 24, 2018 at 8:00 PM
Central Passage
John 1:1-11
Christmas Eve

Pr. David Fleener

Sermon: December 24, 2018 – Christmas Eve

John 1:1-11


When Jesus Was Born


            The night that Jesus was born went all but unnoticed by the world.


            Luke’s Gospel tells us that a few shepherds were privileged to hear the angel’s announcement. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that in a far-off land, astrologers saw his star rise in the east. The only ones who noticed Jesus’ birth were a few Gentiles and shepherds. Not the emperor. Not the religious leaders. And certainly not Herod – the vassal king – who only learned of it when the magi told him. No, that night of Jesus’ birth must have been a dark, lonely one. A few animals. A teenage girl, who had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Her husband, who had to be convinced by an angel to stay with her.


            Jesus, the Word who spoke at creation, who said, “Let there be light”, entered his world under the cover of darkness.


            And the world that Jesus entered was just as, if not more brutal and chaotic and frightening than our own. The Jewish people – Jesus’ people – were burdened by the onerous demands of a far-away emperor. By the extortion of the tax collectors. By the corruption of the governors. And often, Jesus’ people were simply brutalized. We hear about such brutality in our eighth lesson this evening – Herod’s massacre of the children in and around Bethlehem. We have examples from extrabiblical sources, too – the Jewish historian Josephus tells about the brutal pacification of Judea and Galilee after Herod’s death, when the legate Varus had some 2,000 persons crucified. Oh, that world was dark. Many would have not regarded it worth saving. One would have expected God to do one of two things: violent retribution on the oppressors through a glorified soldier-messiah-king, or more simply, to wipe the slate clean. To wash his hands of his creation.


            But God did neither. God did not send a violent, wrathful Savior. Nor did God abandon his creation. God did something totally unexpected. He emptied himself of divine privilege and power and was born, a helpless infant, in this dark, chaotic world. The Word that created the world eons ago entered it as a baby. Not as a conquering king. Not as a great and glorious leader. No, God became human in humanity’s weakest, most vulnerable form – that of a baby.


            Why? Because it is when God is vulnerable, when God takes on mortal human flesh, that the image of God, obscured by our sinfulness, is restored. God’s vulnerability is our salvation because in that vulnerability, God demonstrates his greatest power of all – love. Love for a world that time and time again says no to God. Love for a world that time and time again wants to be left to its own devices, to live without God, to be its own god. Love for people like us.


            And through that love, God’s light shines in the world again. And no matter how dark the darkness gets, no matter how brutal the world gets, the darkness can never, ever overcome the light.


            That light of Christ which came into the world on dark night so long ago is here this evening, amid the darkness of our own world – and your own personal darknesses. That light is reflected in you, and no matter how dim it seems to get, it will never be extinguished. The light of Christ will continue to shine in ordinary people. People like the shepherds. People like the magi. People like you and me.


            Few may have noticed when God was born in Jesus.  But we notice him now. We notice him who has come, not to condemn us. Not to judge us. But to love. To serve. To save.


© 2018, David M. Fleener. Permission granted to copy and adapt original material herein for non-commercial purposes with appropriate credit given.