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Christmas 1B

Christmas 1B

Jeff Bassett

Almighty God, who hast poured upon us the new light of thine incarnate Word: Grant that the same light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

One of the great gifts of following the cycle of fasting and feasting provided to us by the Church is the tangible sense of receiving something that is beyond us in the feast days. Just as we cannot power through the fasts by our own strength, there is more intensity to the worship than we can ever personally muster for the feasts. On this first Sunday of the Christmas season, we are reminded of the fact that we do not simply witness Jesus born in a manger in order to be grateful for his death. We celebrate God pouring out the New Light, the very light which creates light, so that we might be found in that same light. We celebrate the creator who echoes from and to eternity in that manger.

The New Light is the one who is and brings salvation, who clothes us in a bright righteousness by our baptismal participation in his cross-faithfulness. Listen closely to the Isaiah and John readings. This is not an impersonal doctrine carefully crafted for the purpose of correctness. This is the bride in preparation for the bridegroom, adorned with the light of righteous holiness for her coming groom. This is God reveling over the bright righteousness of his beloved Zion. It is tender and fierce, powerful and loving.

The collect reminds us that we are subject to Almighty God, a fierce and grand title for the child born in a manger. And yet, what does the Almighty do? Grant light and enkindle the flame which shines in the dark night. These are not actions of the Mighty Ones that we know, who do all they can to backhandedly consolidate power while seeming relatable. We must remember in this Christmas season that universal authority and intimate personal affection meet in our Lord Jesus Christ. Neither cancels the other out.

Finally, we all, at our best, are like John: witnesses to the light. And yet, by God’s amazing grace we are made more than witnesses alone. We become heirs with the Son, children of God through the Divine Son who is made flesh—Jesus Christ. But being made an heir is about much more than having claim to an inheritance. It is participating in the mission of shining the light as we live out the cruciform death and resurrection faith of Jesus Christ. This is the only way that the Almighty could be brought into unity with the weakness of this child. The cross and tomb are the paradoxical power that make sense of the God-child in a feed trough. This Sunday, may you worship with the same power as you guide the people of God toward the Table where we truly feast on the body and blood of our Incarnate Lord.

Jeff Bassett

About the Contributor

Pastor of the Cordova Church of the Nazarene