Summary: All Christians can say easily that Christ is the Light of their world, and they even mean it. But what is this light of the world, and if they knew, they would not say it so readily. Find out what this light truly is.
This sermon was delivered to St Oswald’s, Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 2nd January 2010; St Oswald’s is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
The readings for today are:
Our sermon text for today comes from the Gospel of John Chapter 1 verses 1 to 18. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 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.
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known”.
“Please join me in a short prayer from Psalms 19:14, and In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, open our hearts to your word, - a word that passes faithfully from our hearts to life eternal. Amen
Our first reading this morning was from the book of Jeremiah, where the text had few direct links with the other readings today, however it is appropriate because it expresses the mood and spirit of the celebration of Christmas.
For example, the news of Christ's birth is an announcement of salvation where the Lord saved, ransomed and consoled a people from sorrow unto joy. It is, of course, a prophetic announcement concerning the return of exiles to the Promised Land.
I particularly like the last verses which say: “Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow”.
That is a very positive and pleasant prophecy where the passage uses the metaphor of redeeming someone, who has been left in pledge for a debt, or from slavery.
To move on, our Gospel message this morning is about Jesus being the light of the world, but before we explore that topic we need to start at the beginning in John chapter 1 verse 1 where John views the creation differently from the other gospel writers.
Matthew, Mark and Luke have had their turn at telling the Christmas story; today it is John’s turn where finally he gets the chance to tell the Christmas story in his way.
The problem with John however is, well, John doesn’t just tell stories, John gives speeches. John does not preach a three point sermon; John preaches a fifty-three-point sermon. John never does anything small as John is the most psychological of all four gospel writers.
John, quite simply, likes to write things large. Mark goes back to Isaiah and Malachi to begin his gospel. Matthew goes back to Abraham. Luke not to be outdone goes all the way back to Adam. But John is in a class by himself. When he tells the story of how Jesus came into the world, he goes back to the dawn of time itself.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
Do you see what I mean? In John, Jesus doesn't just come into the world because of his two parents, Mary and Joseph. (or more accurately Mary and the Holy Spirit); and Jesus to John just isn't the Messiah that Israel has been longing for, and for which the prophets held out hope. No, Jesus to John is the logos, the Word of God Himself. He is that very part of God that speaks; that very part of God that makes Himself heard.