Summary: I don’t know what kind of calamity you’ve experienced but I do know the words “Christmas” and “collision” go together.
The Christmas Collision
During the summer of 1977 I was in the front seat of my friend’s car as we were out for a drive, listening to some music at a pretty high volume. My job was to keep the tunes coming and his job was to drive. As I was bending over to search for another 8-track tape (I told you it was the 70s!), the car jumped the curb and collided with a telephone pole. I woke up with a very fat lip, a couple loose teeth, and 18 stitches in my chin. It was a collision I will never forget.
Some of you have experienced some crashes in your life, perhaps even this year. I recognize that Christmas can be a difficult time for those of you who are going through this season without a loved one. I don’t know what kind of calamity you’ve experienced but I do know the words “Christmas” and “collision” go together.
Mary wasn’t planning to have her life interrupted by the announcement that she was going to be pregnant with the Light of the world. Her dreams were of a nice wedding with Joseph and now they were in serious jeopardy as people wondered how a virgin could be expecting a child. She needed a breath from heaven. I love the words to the song we just heard: “I’m frightened by the load I bear, in a world as cold as stone. Must I walk this path alone? Be with me now. Hold me together and lighten my darkness. Pour over me your holiness, for you are holy.”
We pick up the narrative in Luke 1:26-35: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’
‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
Joseph also had a collision that first Christmas. Listen to Matthew 1:18-25: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ -which means, ‘God with us.’
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
I want us to focus on just one verse tonight from the Gospel of John. At first glance you may wonder why I’ve chosen this particular passage instead of the more traditional Christmas message from Luke or Matthew. While the Gospels of Luke and Matthew give the details surrounding the birth of Jesus, John provides us with the meaning, or explanation. John does not use a narrative but instead gives us the theology behind the nativity.
John 1:14 is one of the most startling verses in the Bible because it describes another Christmas collision. Word for word, I can’t think of a better explanation of what happened “Away in the Manger” in the “Little Town of Bethlehem”: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”