A little full, a little lost?

grey-starYou might remember me saying that you would find me plodding through advent. It was not a reflection of the tasks of the time of year. The same is true for Christmas and Epiphany, and if the truth be told, the whole year. I’m not in any great hurry to see it pass. For me there is a quiet sadness and above all a feeling of the deepest humility surrounding this reading from the gospel of John. It is almost as if it is reflecting the mood of the world today on the second Sunday of Christmas. A little full, a little lost. The headlines perhaps: – Christmas Two: Another stab at the stable – the Innkeepers’ revenge? Or perhaps the inevitable: Return of the Turkey-sprout Sandwich? None of our Gospels were written even remotely close to the birth of Jesus, therefore reflected here is also a little of that post Easter feeling. No matter how much we attempt to keep the party going, there comes a time when the lights and music, the plates and decorations of even the best parties must be cleared away and the celebrations come to an end. Perhaps that is why the world always seems to be in rather a hurry to move on, brush christmas quickly under the carpet of new year and why there is for me a nostalgic feeling to this passage.
He was in the world. He was here, present, part of this world, walking talking partying with friends. Consoling, grieving and crying too.
And the world came into being through him; He lit the first candle, breathed the first breath, gave life to all that lives, was there at first light.
Yet the world did not know him. It was as if he walked in the shadows, stayed out of the limelight, pulled the strings from behind a curtain, changed his face when people looked. They were not ready, not expecting such a presence, or his quiet ways. He came to what was his own. Like everyone he too had a place he had been known. He returned and greeted them as his sisters and brothers, but in seeing his true face and hearing the stories, His own people did not accept him. They could not see him as anything other than the one they had known. His face was familiar but his ways were like that of a stranger and, as all who are different, he was pushed away and reviled. But to all who received him. There were those who did give him welcome. Often those who were not loved, who themselves had been rejected, who found themselves out of favour with the authorities, who were foreigners in a strange land, just as he seemed to be. There were those who saw who he was despite the image some gave to him. And there were those who believed in his name, who heard his name to be light of life and prince of peace, and for them he became Wisdom and Lord, Root of Jesse and Key of David. Dayspring and King of the nations: Emmanuel, God with us. He walks at our side as God walks in the garden and he gave power to those to become children of God. To recognise the world as it truly is behind the cloak of power that humans give to it. To see and understand how to be fully human, and to live alongside those who are around us and to allow us to begin again. So no wonder there is a sense of quiet sadness to this reading, for in quiet humility Jesus comes close to us once again this Christmas in the image of a child born in a manger and perhaps we might catch a little more of the starlight in the old stories and familiar songs. Maybe, just maybe, we can begin to usher in a little more of that unfamiliar kingdom, certainly unfamiliar to much of the world. The kingdom of God where all are loved for who they are and where neighbours can begin to live together in harmony – is it just a lovely dream for the holidays? And yet it is to this that the kingdom of God looks forward. The way of Jesus was so different, no wonder he was rejected, his message was too radical, his path too challenging, can anyone even begin to live out what Jesus taught? And no wonder that as the lights of Christmas begin to fade away, the dawning reality of who Jesus is for us begins to shine forth. It is time to step back from the Christmas card picture of the stable to see a wider image. It is time to prepare to celebrate the Epiphany and with that comes the beginning of an idea of who Jesus might have been for those who welcomed him and who he can be for us.

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