Readings Isaiah 52:7-10 Psalm 98 (3) Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12) John 1:1-14
Jesus was born into a world that was filled with darkness. The symptoms of that darkness are really not all that different from now. The large issues are War between nations; Violence, violence for political reasons and violence as senseless acts; Pollution; hunger; social and economic injustice. Then there are the family darknesses that are sometimes not talked about for generations: all manner of abuse toward a spouse or children; alcoholism or other forms of addiction; etc.
As the Bible shows us throughout its 66 books, all of this darkness are manifestations of sin.
Into the midst of this darkness, Jesus is born. The writer of the gospel of John tells the story of Jesus in a different way than the other gospel writers. John finds numerous ways in which to offer contrasts: faith/no faith; life/death; hunger/filled; blind/sight; etc. In the prologue, John offers the contrast of darkness and light. Darkness is everywhere and is suffocating, but the light of God is born to us in Jesus. Jesus is the eternal one, the radiance of the Father. This light, no matter what, shall not be overcome. The darkness will try, even managing to arrange for Jesus to be betrayed, and hung on a cross and die; but the darkness cannot win. Because the light of God, Jesus, bursts forth from the grave in the resurrection. The darkness cannot overcome the light. Death itself cannot hold back the power of the light of God.
In his sermons on the Gospel of John (LW 22), Martin Luther points out that the light of God has been present in the world before. The light is the Word. Luther writes:
"The light shown from the beginning of the world. God's Word was preached everywhere. Before the Deluge it began to shine through Adam and the other patriarchs. For soon after receiving the promise Adam began to proclaim that God would send forth His Son, through whom He had created the world, to crush the serpents head, to illuminate mankind, and to give it eternal life and salvation."
Luther goes on to speak of the light shining through Noah, then Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then the prophets. Luther then says a couple of pages later (LW 22:34): "And finally Christ the Lord Himself appeared. He was the Life and the real Light of mankind; He lit the brightest torch, which shone with unprecedented brilliance."
On this morning, we celebrate the birth and gift of the light of God. God's own Son, the radiance of the Father, is born among us. His Light shines upon us. He calls us out of darkness. He calls us into the fullness of the life that God desires for his people.
As we continue our Christmas celebration, we sing of Jesus, God's gift to us. Salvation comes to us. The fullness of life is presented to us. Jesus comes to us in love so that we may be transformed by his Light into the fullness of His Life for us.
All God's people say...Amen