The Feast of Christmas – 25 December 2022
Lectionary Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10; Ps. 98:1-6; Hebr.1:1-6; John 1:1-18
Theme: “The Word is the life and light of God”
The Gospel reading for today comes almost as a shock after the Infancy Narratives taken from Matthew and Luke for the Christmas Eve, Midnight, and Dawn Liturgies. It’s time goes right back to “In the beginning” (Gen. 1:1) linking Jesus, the Word, to the God of Creation and thereby pointing to the event of Jesus’ Incarnation as being of cosmic significance – a universal, ‘earth shattering’ event. The Word is Jesus Christ, the eternal expression of God. In the first Creation Story (Gen. 1:1-2:4a) God spoke the world into existence. In the Gospel account we see how God spoke his final word into existence through the living Word, God’s Son.
Verses 4 and 5 speak about the Word bringing life and light which was God, the Creator’s ‘action’ by mean of words in the First Creation Story. “And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”(NKJV) According to Strong # 2638 “Comprehend”- katalambano (Greek) can be interpreted in three ways: 1) to seize, lay hold of, overcome. Thus v. 5 could read as “The darkness does not gain control of it.” 2) To perceive, attain, lay hold of with the mind; to apprehend with mental and moral effort. Thus v. 5 could read: “The darkness is unreceptive to and does not understand the light.” 3) To quench, extinguish, snuff out the light by stifling it. Thus we read: “The darkness will never be able to eliminate it.” Our joy is thus in knowing that the light of Christ is not only greater than our darkness (in all its layers) but that it will outlast the darkness.
“How beautiful upon the mountains/Are the feet of him who brings good news,/Who proclaims peace,/Who brings glad tidings of good things,/Who proclaims salvation,/Who says to Zion,/“Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7) Jesus is the supreme messenger who comes down from God. Because of his proclamation of good news – peace and salvation (life and light) – the reign of God will bring eternal light and life.
“God… has in these last days spoken to us by His Son… who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person… had by Himself purged our sins…” (Hebr. 1:1-3). Here we are once again presented with God’s Word (spoken) who is God’s incarnate and eternal Son displaying his light and glory as God’s image; and purging our sins – giving us eternal life.
At this wonderful event we cannot refrain from singing the words of Ps. 98:1- “Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! /For He has done marvelous things; /His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.” (Our God Reigns supreme!) Jesus the Christ did not come just for certain people as seen in his life as we read the Gospels and therefore we can say with joy that he brought light and life to all peoples and creation as the Ps. 98:2: “The Lord has made known His salvation; /His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.” “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (v. 3b) Amen! Alleluia!
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. In this time of war, sickness, natural disasters etc – unbelievable darkness – can we know because of the coming of Jesus at Christmas that the ‘darkness will never be able to eliminate the Light’, who is the Word?
Bibliography: Hayford, Jack (gen. ed.) Spirit Filled Life Bible (Nashville: 1991); www.biblegateway.com NRSVCE; NKJV.
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Bernadette Teresa Chellew, Durban, South Africa, Bat Kol Alumna: 2008