Rev. Martha Jacobs
Our Own New Birth
Isaiah 52:7-10, John 1:1-14
December 25, 2016
This service is a simple Sabbath. A chance to gather in the quiet of the morning, to remember, to rejoice and to respond to grace flowing freely in the humble birth of the God-made-flesh.
There could not be a more different way of hearing the story of Jesus than the difference between Matthew who gives us a manger and wise men and shepherds and John who has no traditional narrative but instead offers something that is in some ways poetic and deeply theological, and not easy to wrap one’s mind around. Quite frankly, in seminary, I would read this passage and think, what is he talking about?
But then, over the years, as I have read this text and commentaries on it, heard sermons about it and preached on it a few times, I have come to realize that it is a meditation of sorts, one that begins similarly to Genesis – “In the beginning.” In essence, John is writing a new Genesis, a new story of God’s interaction with humanity that is important in its own rite.
According to John, that is what Jesus is – a new Genesis, a new beginning – God’s reinvention and rebirth and renewal of Godself. And, God comes to make manifest God’s enduring commitment to and love for the world through ordinary and finite human flesh. So hard to comprehend and yet, our faith tells us that indeed this did happen.
John suggests that what we see in Jesus is what we can expect from God. Jesus is not the messenger, but rather, Jesus is God, creating and redeeming as only God can. Jesus reveals God’s loving and parental heart; loving us as we are, and loving us too much to leave us alone. Jesus creates a new chapter in the story of God and God’s people by creating a new possibility for experiencing God and God’s grace through Jesus. God is beyond our comprehension, this incarnate God – Emanuel – God with us – Jesus, is not beyond our understanding. Jesus reveals God in a whole new way to us, enabling us to be reborn as well, as we strive to be like Jesus, caring for the least of these.
God coming in the flesh gives humanity hope that we are more than the sum of our parts. There is more to this world and life than we may see or experience, once our hearts and minds and eyes have been opened to the possibilities that are there for the taking when we accept that we are to be followers of Jesus, caring for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the unloved. The Word became flesh so that all who are flesh may realize and live into our identity as God’s beloved children.
As I said last night, God came down on Christmas and reminds us each year that we too possess the hope, the joy, the peace and the love that Jesus brought to us then and brings to us now because, dear ones, we too are reborn on Christmas Day.