From the Yorkshire Baptist Association, by Regional Minister Revd Mary Taylor.
Happy Christmas! Here are some bite-sized treats from the first chapter of John’s Gospel. (John 1:1-18 from The Message Bible) Why not read them as you go through the different activities of today? Share in the cosmic story from which our festive celebrations are a homely echo.
On first waking – or after the first present extravaganza!
1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
3-5 Everything was created through Him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without Him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
When you first open your eyes to the morning light, even if you are roused by noisy, excited children, remember the wonder of today. Christmas celebrates the coming of God’s Life and Light into our everyday world. Jesus, born like all human babies, not speaking but crying and gurgling and cooing, is even so the Word of God from before the beginning of time. Let him speak to you. Let his Light blaze through today – shining on everything you do and shaking the darkness. Today we experience God with us, powerful yet vulnerable as a newborn baby.
Light the Christmas candles, switch on the Christmas lights
6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through Him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want Him.
But whoever did want Him,
who believed He was who He claimed
and would do what He said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
Thank God for showing us the way to be our true selves as the beloved children of God. We may feel we have nowhere to stay or be at home. A day like Christmas Day can be especially hard for some. Jesus shows us that God loves us. He teaches us how to live and gives us the power inside to be at home with God, at home with one another and at home with ourselves. No human process can make this happen, it comes through stopping to take notice of Jesus, wanting His help and asking Him light his Light in us. Are you looking in the right places for this Life-Light?
At the table – why not say grace together?
14 The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
15 John pointed Him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”
As close as you are to the person next to you, Jesus is closer. As well as you know the person you are sitting opposite, Jesus knows you better. He is your flesh and blood neighbour and He knows what human life is all about. The writer of these words had sat down to eat with Jesus, walked with Him and talked with Him as an ordinary man – but in Jesus he saw glory that could only be God’s.
When Jesus moves into your life He will bring the glory of God into every single part. He is generous and true. Let Him have the first word in everything. He is the One!
At the end of the day
16-18 We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
We got the basics from Moses,
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
No one has ever seen God,
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made him plain as day.
The exuberant giving and receiving of Christmas Day is often a delight and expresses our love for those close to us. As Jesus continues to live in us, to dwell in our hearts and in our homes, He wants us to have lives of thankfulness and of generosity.
Welcoming others in the name of Jesus, and receiving one another’s different gifts with gratitude is so much more than keeping to religious rules and regulations. God wants us to be people who will leave together in peace and wholeness. It is only Jesus who is able to reveal clearly to us what God is truly like.
Prayer of St Alcuin (730-804)
Eternal Light, shine in our hearts,
Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil,
Eternal Power, be our support,
Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance,
Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us;
that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength
we may seek your face and be brought by your infinite mercy
into your holy presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.