Meditation on John 1:1–14
First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown
Pastor Karen Crawford
Dec. 25, 2022
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Christmas has come quickly for me this year. Has it for you? I haven’t done many of the usual things I do during the Christmas season—or at least I haven’t gone back to my pre-pandemic routines and traditions.
I haven’t baked any cookies. I HAVE eaten a few!
I haven’t gone Christmas shopping.
I haven’t watched a SINGLE Christmas movie—not “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Charlie Brown Christmas,” or “Love Actually.”
I haven’t made a dent in my personal Christmas cards.
But last night, just when I started to feel down on myself for failing to meet my expectations, the sweet memories of this Advent with my new congregation in Smithtown filled my mind and warmed my heart and soul. What a full and beautiful Advent it has been!
I recalled how Advent began with a surprising invitation to share messages for adults and children with Nanume church, the faith community that nests in our building.
And how we welcomed two brothers, Roman and Bronx, into the Body of Christ through Baptism on the Second Sunday.
On the Third Sunday, we enjoyed worship led by our Young Disciples, telling the Christmas story through song and readings and dressed as angels and shepherds, Mary and Joseph.
On the Fourth Sunday, we worshiped with the Sanctuary Choir’s wonderful Cantata, “The Promise of Light.”
And throughout this season, we have served the community through shared mission, such as writing cards and caroling to homebound members, buying Christmas presents for children who may not otherwise have received them through Adopt an Angel, and helping our neighbors with food insecurity through the Smithtown Food Pantry.
Then last night, after these weary pandemic years kept us all from comfortably gathering in person for joyful worship on Christmas Eve, we gathered for two Christmas Eve services. Even the frigid temperatures didn’t stop the flock from coming! And we had a number of visitors, some older folks and some young families with children.
And now today, a faithful remnant has gathered once again for the BLESSING of Christmas falling on a Sunday.
Looking back over this first year with you, I can honestly say the spiritual lesson that has been brought home to us, over and over, is how the coming together in person to worship, celebrate the sacraments, and share in friendship and compassionate mission unites and heals us and strengthens us to do ministry in Christ’s name. What’s more, when we come together in person, there is JOY!
There’s nothing more powerful than when the people of God come together in Spirit and FLESH.
This makes perfect sense when we consider the kind of God we worship and to whom we belong. This is not a God who created in 6 days, rested on the 7th, and now watches from far away in the heavens and has nothing to do with us!
This is a God who saw us perishing in our sins and unable to help ourselves. God came near to us as one of us, a fragile human being, Jesus. This is what and who we celebrate today!
The miracle of Christ’s birth has brought us near to God and one another. Christ is our peace, breaking down the dividing walls of hostility between human beings.
This is the Son who has come, IS Come, and Will come again soon! This is our hope!
The Word made flesh lived and still lives among us and desires all to receive and believe in Christ’s name. And through receiving and believing, we ARE God’s children!
We have seen his glory, dear friends. Through the manger, cross, and empty tomb, we have seen the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Let us pray.
Holy Triune God, thank you for your love that brought you near to us and draws us nearer to you and one another. We praise, bless, and thank you for all you have done for us in Jesus the Son, the Messiah, gracious God with us, Emmanuel! Help us to embody through our daily living the compassion, kindness, and generosity that is the Christmas Spirit. Lead us to reveal the love that compelled you to humble yourself and become the Word made Flesh. Stir us to reveal to a world of shadows and suffering the glory of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. Amen.