John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
It always happens at this time of year, as we begin to get inundated with the commercialism of Christmas, that for those of us who follow the Christian calendar year, we find ourselves wishing people "Happy New Year!" Advent is the beginning of the Christian calendar. That makes today "New Year's Eve"! Advent always stops me in my tracks just as I'm about to jump in with all the rest who get caught up in the commercialism of the season. Advent allows us the opportunity to stop and ask ourselves what we are preparing for. What is important for us to remember and possibly make different this year from any other year before, as we celebrate Christmas? What is it about the event that happened so long ago in that manger so far away that could have any meaning to my family and me today?
Today's little verse in John's Gospel puts it so clearly to me, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." That verse reminds me that God's loving presence did not originate in that manger but existed before time began. And I can't look at the manger without looking at the full picture of God's grace that is found at Easter – in the cross and in the empty tomb!
I reminded my congregation on Christ the King Sunday (which was last Sunday, and is the last Sunday of our Christian year), as we approach the Advent Season, to take note of the shape of the Advent Wreath which many of us have in our churches and/or our homes. The shape will remind us of Jesus' crown of thorns. We can't come to worship the babe in the manger without realizing that Jesus' crown was a crown of thorns – and Jesus willingly wore that crown of thorns for you and for me.
So Happy New Year! And as you prepare to celebrate Christmas this year, may you come to know the love of God which is found in the manger, at the cross, in the empty tomb, and in your home.
Prayer: Lord God, you have given us such a wonderful gift. When we grasp the tremendous love you demonstrated for us, we realize that we are seeing right into your mysterious being. You showed us that at the center of the universe is not blind fate but a heart of love. Help us to be aware of your presence throughout this Advent Season as we prepare to celebrate your amazing gift to us this Christmas in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.