Summary: A Christmas sermon asking whether the audience will take up God’s offer of reconciliation
There was once a woman who hated Christmas.Many years ago she’d fallen out with her daughter who had left slamming the door behind her and saying she wanted nothing more to do with her mother. The woman had never seen her since.
Every Christmas the woman nursed a secret hope that this would be the year her daughter would come home. But she never did.
Then came the moment when the woman decided to stop waiting and take things into her own hands. It wasn’t hard in this age of the internet to track her daughter down. She lived in Chicago where she was a lecturer.
She made up her mind to go to Chicago for Christmas, to find her daughter, and to offer the olive branch.
It wasn’t easy. She didn’t have much money and she was scared of flying but such was her resolution to see her daughter again she knew that she’d just have to get over it.
She’d thought that getting the money and making the flight would be the hard part, but in actual fact that was the easy part. The difficult thing was plucking up the courage to knock on her daughter’s front door. What if her daughter slammed the door in her face? what if this whole thing had been a waste of time and effort? She must have walked backwards and forwards in front of that house a dozen times, before she finally steeled herself to ring the doorbell.
Now this story has two endings it has the Christmassy it’s a wonderful life, miracle on 34th St Ending, where the daughter takes the mother in her arms, swings her round calls for the children and her husband, tears streaming down her face “My mother’s here for Christmas” as mysteriously an the strains of Auld lang sine, begin in the back ground. They are reconciled.
Or it has the life is not a fairy tale, you didn’t think we’d be so corny just because it’s Christmas Eastenders type of ending. (Note to reader EastEnders is a British soap which frequently has a difficult storyline at Christmas) Where the daughter slams the door in her mother’s face, leaving her alone and friendless in a strange city of Christmas Eve, unsure of what to do or where to go. She remains estranged from her daughter.
The Christmas story is rather like this too. By this I don’t mean the nativity story, the virgin mother, the angels and shepherds, there isn’t much similarity there but the other story, the story behind the nativity. The story which St John tells us in our Gospel reading tonight. The story about When God became a person.
“In the beginning was the Word” says St John, the Word was with God and the word was God” The Word is the creator of the World, the universe, Sun, Moon and Stars He made it all. But John continues a little later “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”
The Word became flesh, that is God the became human. It is crucial that we grasp this. It’s a bit like the beginning of a Christmas Carol “Marley was dead to begin with” without understanding that Jesus, the baby, Jesus the man is God in human form, then the rest of the story doesn’t make any sense. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God became a person.
But why? Why would he do that? The answer is the same answer that drove the woman to Chicago to look for her daughter. He wanted to be reconciled.
It’s a throw away line in a carol God and Sinners reconciled, but that’s what it’s all about.
There had been an estrangement, a falling out, a break down in communication if you like. Human beings had turned their back on God, ignored his advice and gone their own sweet way.
Ever wondered why the service of Nine Lessons and Carols begins with the story of the fall, Adam and Eve eating the apple. It’s because that story is a metaphor the reason for the estrangement; human disobedience, and that was the reason why it was necessary for God to become man.
Perhaps God waited for people to come to their senses, thinking I’ll give them the ten commandments and the law maybe then they will return to me, perhaps if I send prophets to speak my word to them they will see the error of their ways. But they didn’t return to him.
Perhaps God knew from the moment the estrangement happened what would be necessary to effect a reconciliation and sent the law and prophets to prepare the people for what would happen.
And what happened was that God went looking for his lost people. He marched right into their world and said "Here I am. Do you want to make up? Come on then follow me." He said it to every-one, people who thought they were religious and good, people who knew that they were sinners.