Monday, December 28, 2009

What Child Is This?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2. He was in the beginning with God. 3. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4. in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13. who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14. 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 1:1-14

One of my favorite Christmas carols is the beautiful “What Child is This” which is set to the ancient English folksong Greensleeves. The rhetorical question the carol asks is of course the primary question of the season – What Child Is This? Surely after all of the drama of the story – angels, shepherds, more angels, wise men, more angels – this question was certainly on Mary and Joseph’s mind as well. “What Child is this” that has caused such commotion and turmoil in our lives? And as we move away from Christmas the same question comes back to us – “What Child is this” that would prompt all these annual decorations and the buying of presents and so forth. But even once those presents are unwrapped and the decorations are back in their storage bins for another year we are still left with the question – “What Child is This?” What difference does all of this make?

St. John writes - 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.

This beautiful text from the first chapter of St. John serves to balance the Lukan account. And John answers the question for us – “What Child is This” well, this child is none other than the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, the God and creator of all that is incarnate – en-fleshed in this infant Jesus. And for me this means that God is not the remote, off in the distance creator who is unconcerned about the creation; God is not comfortably in God’s Kingdom not to be bothered by the suffering and self-destructive tendencies of the creation. No – God has entered into the human experience fully. And this means that God is here with us each and every day; God hungers when we hunger; God is with us as we struggle with our fears and stresses and doubts; God is in that hospital room with us; God stands right beside us as we struggle for justice and God is with us in death. Through Jesus, God has entered all of these profoundly human experiences and made them holy.

What Child is this?.... This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary!

Let us pray – All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace. Call us out of darkness and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Collect for Christmas Day - ELW

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