December 25, 2008: Christmas Day

Let us pray: Dear Lord Jesus, on this day our words fail us. How can we use simple human language to praise You and fully honor You when angelic language rings throughout the heavens? And yet, You also gave us the gift of human language. So, you meant it for the purpose of honoring Your holy name at all times, including today. Ah, the wonder of it all! So, dear Lord, accept our humble words of thanksgiving and honor as we stand at Your cradle drinking in Your infinite love. Amen


Text: John 1: 1-14

Fellow Redeemed Worshippers of Christ the King!

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Contrast that familiar passage from Genesis with this one from John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” Finally, add this one as well: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Add them all together and you arrive at the most stunning conclusion known throughout the universe: The Baby Jesus is the eternal Son of God Who is the living Word of God, through Whom light came into human reality, and through Whom God’s undeserved love is poured out upon sinners like us. No wonder St. Augustine once said of John’s gospel: “It is shallow enough for any child to wade into, but deep enough to drown any elephant!”


John wrote this gospel account when he was an old man. It reads that way. It feels old, timeless, and full of aged wisdom, doesn’t it? Young men are impetuous. Old men are contemplative. And this lesson, my friends, is the most contemplative piece of writing known to humankind.

We know that God Almighty communicated with Adam and Eve in Eden. We know He used words, sentences that they could understand. Through them language comes down to us today. Perhaps you’ve not thought much about that fact. But it is true that God was the author of human language, or words. I have no doubt that if our first parents had been wordless, they would have devised some sort of sign language with which to communicate. And it is true that sign language can get across to another wants, needs, desires, and certain concepts. And yet, words make it easier. And only through words can we convey to another large thoughts about life, death, the afterlife, atoms, molecules, and how everything interrelates. Without words how do you communicate the concept of: the eternal? The infinite? Or timelessness?

Since Christ is the “Word made flesh” He is the One Who stands behind human language. He is the One Who takes the huge ideas of God and brings them down to our level. He started that process when time began, “in the beginning.” And on Christmas He fulfilled all our needs when it came to bringing the hugeness of God down to our level. For “the Word became flesh and dwelt for a while among us, full of grace and truth.”


What was Jesus trying to get across to human beings when He was born? What was He trying to give us that our language, up to that time, could not convey or conceptualize? Well, St. John tells us: “light, grace, and truth.”

No matter how much we rationalize it, darkness is scary. Being in unchanging darkness diminishes our lives. Without light you cannot see colors, shapes, faces. You cannot glimpse danger. Darkness means aloneness, total solitude which will never end. That’s scary. And obviously that’s not God’s way at all! For in using Christ’s creative power, the Word, the “let there be”, darkness was pierced by light. It was pushed aside by God’s goodness. And light, life, and joy over all creation came to Adam and Eve.

But sadly, Satan corrupted God’s gift of language and used it to tempt Adam and Eve. They gave in. They succumbed. Darkness returned. Aloneness apart from God returned. So, the Word had to dispel such darkness once and for all. He had to because He loved and still loves His fallen creation. So, the Word became flesh. The Word was born in a stable. The Word came to convey to us Godly truth—especially how much He loved us even though we did not deserve His love or His light. Yes, the Word was born fully human to take on our darkness and replace it with glorious salvation. For when Christ died, the power of darkness over us died. And by believing in Him, we’ll walk in the light of His love forever!—Without fear!


How many Christmas cards did you send out this year? How many letters did you write? How many phone calls have you made? How many words have you used to convey to others your love for them? And how often have you thought while doing so: “This ability to speak words of love comes from God and directly goes back to the Baby Jesus? He has made my ability to share my heart with another real.” It’s real only because He shared His heart, His soul, His life, His all with us, beginning at that first Christmas. Yes, God’s love came down to us at Christmas! Not just the touchy/feely kind of love, but the profound, timeless, soul-shaking kind of love that will never cease!—And that’s why Christmas will never cease!

THE WORD BECAME FLESH. It became, He became personal and intimate with you and me. He became our Brother “full of grace and truth.” And although, as John tells us: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

Like many of you, I’ve often thought that human language seems trite and rather inadequate when it comes to honoring God Almighty. For how do you put the fullness of His goodness into mere words and capture the hugeness of His heart in human language? The gulf of inadequacy is gigantic! But, after reading this lesson again, and venturing out into its ‘deep water’ I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. Any words of thanksgiving and joy will do when it comes to worshiping the Christ Child—from the lofty tones of the theologian to the squeaky simplicity of the happy child. After all, isn’t it the Word Who stands behind our words? Amen