Sermon - December 31, 2023 - St. Martin's In the Desert

Sermon – December 31, 2023

1 Christmas
First Sunday after Christmas Day
December 31, 2023

First Reading: Isaiah 61: 10-62:3
Psalm 147
Second Reading: Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
Gospel: John 1: 1-18


Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

“IN THE BEGINNING was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Well, let me ask, did you sigh after Christmas Day? The busyness is over! We have been in a whirlwind and going strong since Thanksgiving, maybe even before that. 

Maybe you already started packing up the decorations, taking the tree down, just to be able to relax and look forward to the New Year.

Some stores start putting Christmas decorations out in September. They are preparing for the Christmas holiday, “not” because they are excited that the birth of Jesus is drawing near, but they are excited to make the sales, as early as they can, to get as much as they can. 

It is because we get sucked into it every year. We see the displays and it causes us to get excited. 

My brother really disliked it all, and he was not alone. Do not get me wrong, he loved Jesus and he was very close to God. 

What he did not care for was the stress of it all, he could not afford to buy all the things his kids wanted.

Thousands of people are just like that, they want to give to their families what everyone else is doing for theirs. 

Money worries, anxiety, loneliness, grief, difficult family relationships. These are just a few of the issues people have during this season.

In the gospel of John, he starts with Genisis “In the beginning” Christmas begins, where Genisis begins…with God and in God and in God’s creation. “The beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”

John tells the Christmas story with these nine words, 

“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” 

God, the God of creation, the one who revealed himself to humanity, God became flesh, completely human as you and I. “He” was the Word, God himself. 

Matthew and Luke tell all about the birth of Jesus, the beautiful story we shared last weekend. 

John’s version is not the warm and fuzzy story of the birth…but John just gets to the point… The beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”

There is one part of the scriptures in the gospels, that are the same, “The light” 

“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.”

When John talks about the light shines in darkness, we all get it, we somehow understand this and we know that it can not be described any other way. Because no one had never seen God, the light begins to shine on God and with that, Gods radiation is spread over the world, for all to see. 

This is the Christmas story we celebrate and look forward to; Jesus coming into the world, in his life, in his ministry, his teaching, his death and his resurrection. In all of this, we finally have the light we need to see God.

To circle back around, it is okay to shop and buy those presents for Christmas, remember that God is in all things and all things are in God, so what we do during the Christmas season is okay with God. 

Consciously we are children of God, we practice the Christian life with confidence. We need to keep the incarnate Christ close to us, in our hearts, as every heartbeat, we have is Gods Word. 

And when we put ourselves at His service, we become transformed. “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

Remembering the Words of John, and “we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” 

The Reverend Lola Culbreath