John 1:1-14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him everything was made, and without him not one thing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. 5 The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man, sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as an eyewitness to testify about the light so that everyone would believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but he came to testify about the light.
9 The real light that shines on everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to what was his own, yet his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who did receive him, to those who believe in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They were born, not of blood, or of the desire of the flesh, or of a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory he has as the only-begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
How many of you have not seen the new Star Wars movie? There are some big questions to be answered in this movie. Who is Snoke? Who are Ren’s parents? Why has Luke been hiding in a cave? Will Kylo Ren be redeemed from the dark side? Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil the movie for you. Shelley and I have our tickets to go see the movie tomorrow. So, don’t spoil it for me!
Don’t you hate it when someone gives you the spoilers? They give you the big plot twist to movies like “The Sixth Sense” or “Usual Suspects.” You record the Packers game to watch it later and someone tells you the score of the game. A few years ago, someone was upset at me because in my sermon, I gave away the plot and ending of the movie, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” while the movie was in the theaters. I told her that in my defense, the book had been published in 1950. She had 55 years to read it.
Although there can be movies and sporting events that can be spoiled, there is not spoiling Christmas.
Wait a minute, you say.
Wait a minute, you say. Pastor, you don’t know my family. They can spoil anything. You don’t know the troubles I am dealing with at home or at work. You don’t know what the doctor just told me. You don’t know what is going on with my finances. There are a lot of things that can spoil Christmas. Well, you are correct. I don’t know all that is going on at home and work. But I do know that none of this can spoil what God has done. Because He has come for exactly this.
Today on Christmas morning we heard of the Word made flesh, the glory of God incarnate in a baby. This is John’s version of Immanuel – God with us. What is beyond the reach of our Immanuel God? The Word that spoke in creation is now made flesh to speak forgiveness, life, and salvation. What can spoil this miracle news? What can steal God’s glory made to shine in the dark night of all our sins, all our problems, all our ills, all our fears, and all our anxieties?
The Light shines in the darkness. This is not a conditional statement. It is not that the Light might shine or could shine but a declaration. The Light shines in the darkness. The darkness of sin and guilt and unworthy sinners. That is where the Light shines. The darkness of infection and affliction.
That is where the Light shines. All that troubles us in this body and this life. That is where the Light shines. In the darkness of our weakened condition because of sin and the death that threatens to erase our life and all our memories. That is where the Light shines. Every affliction of the soul, from despair to desperation. That is where the Light shines.
The Light shines and the darkness has not overcome it. No matter how it appears to your eyes. The darkness has not over come it. This again is not a conditional statement – not a what if or what might be or even what could be. This is God’s declaration. This is what is. No matter how it appears to you now, the darkness has not overcome the Light of Christ.
His forgiveness is greater than all our sins. No matter how lost and guilty we are, we are not beyond the reach of His Light that cleanses, forgives, and renews. No matter how wounded our bodies and our down our spirits, we are not beyond the reach of His healing and sustaining grace. He gives us what we need for this moment and He gives us eternal life. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
Not even death can steal the light or take from what God has done. The Light shines even in graveyards and funeral homes. Death’s sting has been stolen and right here, in the midst of the world where the devil loves to gloat, God has delivered life to us.
We have this life now and we keep it for eternity. The world is filled with spoilers – just like those who tell you about the movie you have not yet seen. The devil snickers thinking he can cast his long dark shadow of disappointment over everything. But not Christ. Not the Light. It shines and the darkness can’t win.
It’s true. The party will end. The bills will have to be paid. Gifts will be returned. Memories will fade. But Christ remains. The world didn’t recognize Him but even that did not stop Him. His own people did not receive Him; so He welcomed strangers like you and me. To all who receive Him, God makes them His sons and daughters and opens heaven’s splendor to us all.
You surely do have troubles. You have spoilers all around you. But these will end and Christ remains. Satan, the world, your worst enemies, your worst fears, your wounded heart, and your bitter memories... they cannot spoil Christmas. Christ has shown us His glory and His truth. We have seen it. It is the glory of the everlasting Son of the Father, shining with light, life, forgiveness, hope, and truth.
All that is left to us is to believe this, to rejoice in the God who delivers us from all the spoilers in our lives – even those we cause for ourselves. All that is left to us is to keep our eyes, our hearts, and our focus on the Light that shines in the darkness.