“The Work Of Christmas” – A Sermon On John 1:1-18

The First Sunday After Christmas – John 1:1-18

What comes to mind when you think about the work of Christmas? 

For most of us, I suspect, it’s things like shopping, wrapping presents, decorating, cleaning the house, buying groceries and cooking Christmas dinner. It’s getting ready for Santa and opening presents. It’s getting to church or the computer on time for the start of the Christmas service. I know for some it’s a lot of work just getting through these days. They’re hard days of grief, sadness, depression. For some the work includes planning the liturgies and preparing sermons. And this year a lot people worked hard making videos and ensuring that the technology worked. We do a lot of work leading up to and in anticipation of Christmas Eve. 

And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if on Christmas Day, after the child has been born and after the dishes have been done, there’s a collective sigh of relief that our Christmas work is done. But what if it’s really not? What if that’s when “the work of Christmas begins?”

Sermon, Christmas, Incarnation, Word of God, John 1:1-18
Photo by Matt Collameron Unsplash

That’s what Howard Thurman writes in his poem entitled “The Work of Christmas.”

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

Have you ever thought that maybe “the work of Christmas” is what it means and looks like for the Word to become flesh and live among us (John 1:14)? 

Maybe the Word becoming flesh and living among us is a momentary kind of thing, happening only in the moments when “the work of Christmas,” is being done. Maybe it’s less about a particular person and more about a way of being and living with each other.

I think most of us hear about the Word becoming flesh and living among us and we immediately assume it’s about Jesus. I don’t disagree with that. We see him enfleshing the Word of God throughout his life; enfleshing forgiveness, love, mercy, peace, gentleness, nonviolence, wisdom, compassion, generosity. That was his way of being and living.

So, yes, I do think the Word became flesh in Jesus. I just don’t think it is unique or exclusive to Jesus, as if Jesus is the only one in whom the Word became or can become flesh. 

What about you and me? What about the Word becoming flesh in us? 

Maybe the Word can and is intended to become flesh in us to the same degree it was in Jesus. Maybe that happens every time we offer compassion or mercy, in every moment when we do “the work of Christmas.”

Have you ever loved or forgiven another? Have you ever reached out to another with compassion or gentleness? Have you ever responded with nonviolence and peace? Have you ever fed the hungry or cared for the sick? Has someone else ever done those things to or for you? 

If you answered yes to any one of those questions then you can also say, “And [once again] the Word became flesh and lived among us.”

It’s two days after Christmas and

… the song of the angels is stilled,
… the star in the sky is gone,
… the kings and the princes are home, [and]
… the shepherds are back with their flock.

So what about you and me? Where do we go from here? What’s next for us?

Well, Merry Christmas. It’s time “to make music in the heart.” There’s a Word of God desiring to become flesh in you and me. Merry Christmas.  

14 thoughts on ““The Work Of Christmas” – A Sermon On John 1:1-18

  1. Thank you for this message. I am struck particularly by the way you make this point: “Maybe the Word becoming flesh and living among us is a momentary kind of thing, happening only in the moments when “the work of Christmas,” is being done. Maybe it’s less about a particular person and more about a way of being and living with each other.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, that’s something I’ve been reading and thinking on for a couple of years thanks to the work and writings of John Caputo. He speaks of God’s insistence to be given existence through our lives, words, and actions.

      Peace be with you,
      Mike+

      Like

  2. Thank you so very much. I love this line and sentiment.. “I just don’t think it is unique or exclusive to Jesus, as if Jesus is the only one in whom the Word became or can become flesh. ”

    Peace and Merry Christmas !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you once again for a wonderful piece, and the peace that it brings. We are challenged daily to put our faith and belief into practice, not just accepting the gift of Jesus at Christmas and filing it away but really using it and sharing it with others. And we know that God is with us as we do that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful sermon! I really enjoyed your thoughts on the Word of God becoming flesh, not only in the life of Jesus, but also in our own lives as Christians. When we feed the poor, offer forgiveness and grace to others, and imitate the grace of our Heavenly Father, we are manifesting the Spirit of God in this physical world. May the Lord bless you and your ministry.

    Liked by 1 person

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