Thursday 6th Jan Communion at 10.00am.
Sunday 9th Jan Parish Mass at 9.30am.
The coffee mornings will resume after the Christmas break in the Church Mice cafe (in the Narthex) from 10.00am on Tues 11th January and every Tuesday thereafter.
Sermon: Second Sunday after the Nativity
"The Word was made flesh and he lived among us”.
In the year when I left the College of the Resurrection and was ordained deacon – 1995 – there was a song in the charts by Joan Osborne. It seems like yesterday, but it’s more or less 26 years ago. The song was called: “What if God was one of us?” It asks a few hypothetical questions, like how we would address him, what we would ask him and what he would look like. There’s no harm in pondering these things and maybe some of our answers might shed light on how we see God and how we understand our relationship with God.
But surely the most comprehensive and majestic answer to that question, “What if God was one of us?” is found in the prologue of St John’s gospel which we have heard just now. Those two words, “What if?” are answered by the awe-inspiring message that the power and the majesty of God has appeared in our world first of all in the form of a tiny child. Through him he light of God shines in the darkness of our lives and nothing can overcome that light. The pure truth that overwrites all the deception that surrounds us is there for us to hear. Perhaps most amazingly of all, the presence of God in our world in the form of Jesus gives us the grace to become what we are intended to be: God’s sons and daughters; brothers and sisters in Christ.
As the song goes: “What if God was one of us, just a stranger on the bus?” Well, for the people who were first expecting the Messiah, it seems that he was treated as a stranger. The gospel tells us: “He was in the world that had its being through him, and the world did not know him. He came to his own domain and his people would not accept him.” Perhaps their idea of what God is like was too conditioned by their own prejudices and standards. The Messiah would never have grown up in a minor town like Nazareth. He would not have had ordinary parents. He would not have called fishermen to be his followers. Nor would he have lingered in the company of tax collectors, publicans and prostitutes. God would want to limit himself to respectable people like them and us.
Is it really much different today? People expect to be impressed. They want their opinions and their outlook to be confirmed. All too often we don’t want to be challenged or to be taken out of our comfort zone. From childhood upwards, Jesus breaks the mould and whilst some welcomed his message, many turned away or were hostile. He did not come to impress or to overpower us, but to live alongside us and to show us what God is really like. Although he performed miracles, these were not done for effect, but to reveal the healing, forgiveness and compassion of the God who is our Creator.
Even in the manger in Bethlehem, Jesus revealed himself in poverty. He showed his love by embracing our humanity in all its limitations, its weakness and its woundedness. He showed us that he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself a servant: the Servant King. As St John Henry Newman put it:
“He had once meant to come on earth in heavenly glory, but we sinned: and then he could not safely visit us, except with shrouded radiance, and a besmirched majesty, for he was God. So he came himself in weakness, not in power.”
So we don’t need to ask, “What if God was one of us?” He is one with us in Christ Jesus. If God had come among us in power and might, his glory and light would have overcome us. We are not yet ready for that. But the light that was there at the beginning of creation shines in such as way that we can receive it. That light leads us on through the darkness that is within us and around us. The truth of God gently leads us away from falsehood and enables us to hear and accept the message of eternal life. In all our weakness and wrongdoing, the compassion of God comes to meet us and lifts us up to see salvation.
Let us pray:
Loving Father, your Son Jesus was born to save a fallen world. Rescue us from the ways that lead us into ignorance and harm and help us to walk the path of life in the company of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.