We Have Seen His Glory

Meditation on John 1:1-14

Pastor Karen Crawford

Christmas Eve 2021

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH

Link to livestream of the Christmas Eve service: https://fb.watch/a78FTMJAPZ/

Link to Christmas Eve bulletin:

Do any of you have any last-minute Christmas shopping to do? Maybe, like me, you have a few presents to wrap? Stockings to stuff? Cards to write? OK, we’re going to be up all night, aren’t we?

It always makes me feel better to know that Christmas isn’t just one day. It is the beginning of a 12-day season. You know that, right? In other words, you and me—we’ve got some time!

My husband finished his sermon yesterday before I had written the first word of mine. I had read all the commentaries. They weren’t inspiring.

So, I took a break and watched Charlie Brown Christmas.

A materialistic Snoopy wins a decorating contest by covering his doghouse with flashing lights. Little Sally asks big brother Charlie to write a Christmas list for Santa. She has been especially good this year, she says, so it’s a long list. Or, Santa can make it easy on himself by just giving money—10s and 20s!

 Lucy never gets what she really wants for Christmas. She gets stupid toys, clothes, bicycles and other stuff.

“What do you really want?” Charlie asks.

“Real estate,” she says.

Charlie is persuaded to direct the Christmas pageant as a cure for his depression. “You need involvement,” Lucy says in her 5-cent psychiatrist role. “And we need a director.”

When the cast refuses to cooperate and chaos ensues, a frustrated Charlie asks what Christmas is all about.

Linus drops his blanket, goes center stage, asks for a spotlight, and recites Luke 2:1-14:

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men.”

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 “What’s Christmas about to you?” My husband asks after the movie. “It’s not a birthday party for baby Jesus.”

It’s about hope. Peace. Love.

Love has come through a humble child in a manger.

Light is shining in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it.

***

I have wonderful memories of childhood Christmases. Baking cookies with Mom. Decorating the tree after my Dad put it in the stand and wrapped the strings of lights. Mom would start Christmas shopping weeks, sometimes months, ahead.  She was so organized. She stored the gifts in closets. I helped wrap the presents. That was my job. One time, we ran out of Scotch tape, so I used Elmer’s glue. It didn’t work so well! But it gave us something to smile about.

The one memory that stands out to me this year as particularly meaningful was going shopping every Christmas Eve with my dad.

This is how it worked. On Christmas Eve, in the afternoon, I would ask Dad if he had bought a present for my mom. “No,” he would say, shaking his head. And I would feign surprise, and we would bundle up in coats, hats, and gloves and go to Lake Forest Mall. Hardly anyone was at the mall on Christmas Eve. Most people were already finished their shopping by then. We had no trouble finding a parking space. There were never any lines at the registers.

We would go to every department store looking for a gift for Mom. J.C. Penney’s. Hecht’s. Sears. Macys. We would go from store to store but Dad was never pleased with what he saw. He would touch all the fabrics and shake his head. He’d wonder about sizes and colors. Finally, we would find the perfect nightgown, robe and slippers for my mom. We’d go home and I’d wrap the gifts and put them under the tree.

We did this every Christmas Eve.

Year later, we lived in different states, and I stopped traveling at Christmas because I was a minister; my flock became my extended family. That’s when I figured out why Dad and I had done this every Christmas Eve for years. And why it took so long to buy essentially the same gifts every year.

My dad didn’t really care about the gift. My mom didn’t care about it, either. She thought the whole thing was ridiculous. It was something Dad and I did together. It was about spending time together. It was about love.

And here it is—another Christmas Eve—and I would give anything to go shopping with my father one more time. Or even just to be able to call him up and laugh about how we used to go to Lake Forest Mall every year on Christmas Eve to buy my mom a nightgown.

I would give anything to have a few more precious moments with him. To hear his voice calling my name. I’m sure you feel the same way about your loved ones who are no longer with you.

***

Christmas is about Love.

God so loved the world that he became one of us. A child in the manger would become our Savior, suffering on the cross, and being raised from the tomb. The Word of God that was with God from the beginning, and WAS God, the One through whom all things were made, is the greatest gift of all.

Through Christ, God and human beings are reconciled. Through Christ, we have new, abundant and eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

The Word became flesh and lived among us. And we have seen his glory! You’ve seen it! I’ve seen it!

Let us share our hope, Christ’s peace, God’s love— on Christmas and every day.

The Light is shining in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it.

We have seen the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to be one of us and lead us back to You. Help us to love as you love and testify to the Light that shines in the darkness. Help us to see and be the reflection of your glory, dear Lord, the Word made flesh, and to reveal your Only Son, full of grace and truth. In the name of Emmanuel we pray. Amen.

Published by karenpts

I am the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, New York on Long Island. Come and visit! We want to share God’s love and grace with you and encourage you on your journey of faith. I have served Presbyterian congregations in Minnesota, Florida and Ohio since my ordination in 2011. I am a 2010 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and am working on a doctor of ministry degree with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I am married to Jim and we have 5 grown children and two grandchildren in our blended family. We are parents to fur babies, Liam, an orange tabby cat, and Rory, a standard poodle.

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