Christmas Day (Year A)
Scripture Readings*: Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12), John 1:1-14, Psalm 78
For decades, Israel’s remnant had suffered in a foreign country without an altar or priesthood. Isaiah foresees the day when the people will return to Jerusalem, rebuild their temple, and restore their God-given ministry.
Good news is worth sharing. Isaiah sees the messenger announcing peace and salvation… a message of joy and comfort.
Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
Old Testament prophets spoke their message out of their own life experience and Israel’s. Their message was applicable to their age, and often characterized by one idea. Amos’ focused upon the need for social justice. Isaiah grasped the holiness of God. Hosea’s own bitter experience revealed the forgiving love of God. Each of these messages, though important parts of the revelation of the Messiah, are fragmented portions.
With Jesus it is different. He was not a fragment of the truth; he was the whole truth. In Christ, God displays not some fragmented part of himself, but all of himself.
John allows us to see that even before Creation, Jesus was God the Son. He existed before His birth, is coequal with God the Father, and the source of light and of life itself (1:1–5). John emphasizes that Jesus is the preexistent Word (vv.6-9). To the Jew a word was far more than a mere sound; it was something which had an independent existence and which actually did things.
The awesome revelation is this: In Jesus, God Himself became flesh and lives among us (v.14).
What’s the Word?
Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King! The mere words of this carol shine hope into the darkened portions of our souls. They point out the power our words have to inspire… encourage… transform. This is the message of today’s readings.
Isaiah’s words envisioned a world reflecting the comfort and salvation of the Lord. To a people weary with oppression, those words inspired them to remain faithful. To the second generation of Christians receiving the letter of Hebrews, the words reminded them that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophets’ words – encouragement during a time of persecution and martyrdom. John’s gospel presents the ultimate Word, Jesus Christ. In Him, we have more than hope and encouragement – we have the very presence of God made flesh, dwelling among and within us.
Joy to the world, indeed!
Prayer for Christmas Day – “Almighty God, as I celebrate the Gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, help me both receive and proclaim Your Word with the confidence of His redemption and salvation. Blessed be God now and forever. Amen.”
*Readings are from the NRSV and the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A