The Word became flesh….The Lord God almighty who spoke the universe into existence, who divided the seas from the dry land, whose voice causes the oaks to whirl, who stretched the open sky over empty space and hung the earth on nothing, God most holy, most magnificent, all-powerful…..God…pours all that God is into a little bag of skin and comes to dwell in our midst as one of us.
Sometimes I’m not sure we can ever fully understand how shocking ….how truly scandalous that claim of our old faith really is.
The Hebrew Scriptures insist that one can’t ever see God….though Moses got a glimpse. Having heard the voice of God speaking directly to him on the top of Mt Sinai Moses asks God to let him see God’s full glory. God tells him that he will pass before Moses, but that Moses may not see God’s face. “Because,” God explains, “No one sees my face and lives.” So God places Moses in the cleft of a rock to protect him and he covers Moses with his hand until he has passed by and then he takes away his hand and Moses get a glimpse of God’s back.
Nobody sees the face of God and lives!
And yet there is a longing, isn’t there….a longing that we Christians often hear expressed at funerals….that when we pass from this life to the next we will finally stand in the presence of a God and see God face to face.
And yet our old faith insists that we do not have to wait….because God decided to join us in the flesh….slipping in among us as a little baby so we wouldn’t be afraid…and now we can behold the fullness of God’s glory….look straight into the very face of God in Christ and live!
So yes, this has been an incredibly tough year. There is so much to Christmas that we are missing this year and at the top of the list for many of us is being able to get together with our whole family. But there are those things that churches do to celebrate the coming of Jesus. I truly miss gathering with you in our sanctuary this year….hearing our little choir….making our big circle around the sanctuary…gathering for some hot cider and goodies in the Community Room afterwards before heading out into the stillness of the night.
This really isn’t quite the same, is it.
And yet over the course of the last 9 months as we have gathered via Zoom…sat looking at our computer screens, or our iPads or our smart phones week after week I think we have come to appreciate the power of seeing each other’s faces here. We are genuinely filled with joy as faces pop up on our screen. There you are! (Name them.)
Those of you who call in get to at least hear the voices of this gathering of folk, but there really is something especially powerful, about those faces, isn’t there.
I keep hearing about churches creating wonderful worship services with beautiful pre-recorded music from their musicians and sermons by their pastors filmed by someone in advance as they speak in their well-appointed sanctuaries.
And then here we are…..looking at one another’s faces on Zoom with a pastor struggling to deal with the technology.
And yet I have to be honest….I wouldn’t trade this for all that fancy stuff. You know why? Because this is real. It isn’t recorded. It’s incarnate. And when I look at all of your faces, even on a computer screen, I see the face of Christ…in you…in the likes of us….assembled together here in this strange cyberspace and yet a space somehow made holy by God’s presence with us here….Emmanuel…..Love incarnate….here….on Zoom.
I mean whoever would have guessed that our God could use Zoom as his manger. . .as a place where we are able to look and see the face of Christ in one another. And yet somehow God did it, didn’t he.
Jesus is here…and we can still behold his glory…full of grace and truth.
Let us pray:
O God, we give you thanks for this Holy night where love is found in the most unexpected place. May we welcome the gift of your presence into our hearts….may we sing with the angels, run with the shepherds and kneels with kings before the miracle of your love that could not be contained in the heavens but came to dwell in our midst…full of grace and truth. May that love spill out from us into a world hungry for it….and for the joy and peace and hope that brings. Inb bb. the name of Jesus we ask it. Amen.