Summary: It is easy to remain in the character of Christianity during Christmas -- but easy to slip our character throughout the year.
When I was a kid, my favorite television show was Superman. Understand, this was in the 1950s, when every home had only one television set, received only 2 stations, and all shows were in black and white.
Superman of my childhood was a low tech show with simple special effects.
But he was dependable.
Every episode, he fought for truth, justice and the American way and at one point in the episode, the bad guys could be trusted to try to shoot Superman.
This was the most exciting moment of the show.
The criminal would aim his pistol, fire off six bullets, while Superman stood there looking bored. Bullets would bounce off Superman’s chest.
Then the bad guy would realize with some surprise that the gun was out of bullets, and without fail, he would throw the empty gun at Superman.
That’s when Superman would duck.
We could never figure that out as kids – this man who was never afraid of bullets would be afraid of a simple, empty gun that was tossed in the air.
What does Superman have to fear? He’s the man of steel.
Well, as an adult I know now what was going on. As an actor, it was easy for George Reeves of the old Superman shows to bravely face the bullets bouncing off his chest. There were no bullets. The sparks of the bullets on his chest were added later, as an early special effects.
But when the gun was thrown, that was real. And the actor would, for just an instant, get out of character and duck so he wouldn’t be hit by the fake handgun the other actor had thrown at him.
As an actor, it was easy for George Reeves to ACT like Superman, even though there were times when reality would creep into the series. And then he would step briefly out of character.
As Christians, it is easy for us to ACT like Christians, who believe in Christ, especially at Christmas time.
But now that Christmas is over, the world around us sets in and it is hard for us to stay in the Christian character.
It is easy to act like we believe when we are singing songs of Christmas carols, decorating the tree, setting up the manger set.
It is hard to stay in that character of belief when we have to go back to school to face the tests and lectures and exams; or when we have to pack up the decorations in the attic and go back to work to face the boss and the routine.
It is easy to act like we believe when we are surrounded by words and symbols of faith and Christmas.
It is hard to stay in that Christian character when we have to face the world of health problems, work frustrations, and family fights.
And sometimes at this point of the calendar year we find ourselves thinking, “What did we celebrate Christmas for? What was it all about?”
John’s Gospel doesn’t start with a Christmas story. It doesn’t start with Christ in a crib. It doesn’t start with the birth of our Lord. It starts by telling us what our faith is all about.
Jesus is the Word
John’s Gospel begins with a poetic description of Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
“What’s the good word,” is something we often ask and hear.
With a word, I can make you laugh, or cry and you almost can’t help it.
I can draw you closer with words of love and grace.
And I can push you away with harsh critical words.
I can discourage you with things like, “What a stupid thing to do,” and “you’ll never amount to anything,” “loser” “quit now and avoid frustration.”
Or I can encourage you. “Yes you can, I’ll help you. I will never quit on you. You can count on me to be in your corner.” “I WILL love you NO MATTER WHAT!”
If I can speak properly, I can stir up almost any emotion -- determination, patriotism, love, anger, jealousy.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
And what are the words that the Word of God verbalizes?
Back on Christmas Eve, it was easy to believe these words of love and grace.
Can’t we stay in the Christian character all year long, and continue to believe. Not act like we believe, but truly believe.
JESUS IS GOD
One of the most important messages of John’s Gospel comes at the beginning. He is poetically talking about Jesus as The Word. “In the beginning was the Word – Christ. And the Word, or Christ, was with God. And the Word, or Christ, was God.”