This reflection was offered at our Carol Services. It is based on the traditional last reading from the Nine Lessons and Carols service, which is the opening of the Gospel of St John:
In the beginning the Word existed. He was with God at the beginning…
John’s Gospel is not the easiest to understand. It would be best read when you have time and space to read a bit and then ponder on it for a bit. Perhaps by yourself in a deckchair in the garden on a warm summer’s day when all the domestic chores are done and the day is yours.
John explains to us in words something that is almost impossible to understand – that God became Man. But we start at the beginning, but of course there is no beginning, for God lives in eternity and eternity has no beginning and no ending. As far as mere mortals can express time unknown, or that which existed before time itself existed, it’s probably simplest to call this the beginning.
He, the Word, Jesus, was there with God. There was never a moment (and here we have to talk about time again!) when the Word did not exist. The Word was not Jesus – Jesus was not born, but that’s who He became as He came from Heaven to our little planet, embodying Father’s love and charged to carry out Father’s plan. Since the time of Adam, Man had fallen away from God. To bring Man back to God, God came, The Word came, in human form, to live a human life, to be like us.
This is the most amazing and distinctive miracle that separates our faith from any other – God became Man. He who spoke everything, absolutely everything into existence – light, the cosmos, life – came to us like one of his own creation, like one of us, to live like us, to demonstrate His Father’s love to us, the bring us God’s Kingdom and to take us back into His family.
As the hymn puts it – I cannot tell why He, whom angels worship, should set his love upon the sons of men.
But that’s what he did. He came, in human form, as a baby who was named Jesus, born of a mother, who lived like us, and who knew that before he grew old he would suffer and die to pay the price of our sins so that we may be brought back to Father God as his adopted Children.
The carols we’ve sung speak of the birth, the Incarnation, of God taking on flesh. Christmas is not about the baby – it’s about God’s inestimable love and about the greatest man who ever lived.