Monday, December 24, 2012

God became flesh and dwelt among us

A sermon preached in the Last Morning Watch (Simbang Gabi) in Tuguegarao Central United Methodist Church last December 24, 2012.

Text: John 1: 1-14

The Lord be with you.
Today is the last day of our nine day Simbang Gabi. Who completed the 9-day morning watch? May I ask you to stand and be recognized. Look  at their faces.. look at their eye bags. Let us give God our clap for those who finished the 9 days morning watch.
The Gospel reading is appropriate for this last day of waiting for the coming of God. Our text tells us the message of Christmas – that God has arrived. The Gospel of John tells us the Christmas story in a different way and it is direct to the point – that God who loves the world so much that God choose to become human like us.
John is a very important Gospel because it tells about the divinity of Christ. It starts with the words “In the beginning.” Does that sound familiar? It is the words of Genesis 1:1. The words “in the beginning” in the Bible means time eternal – that the Word was there even before time.
And “The word” was God. This was the God who spoke the words “let there be light” and there was light. This God created the heaven and the earth and every living creatures within it. This is the almighty, all powerful and all knowing God. That God is also Word.
“And the Word became flesh.” That is the story of Christmas. The almighty, all powerful and all-knowing God became flesh; and the Word that became flesh is that baby born Jesus Christ. The Eternal, almighty, all powerful and all knowing God became human like us on that first Christmas Day.
My dear brothers and sisters, we often forget that Jesus is God. This faith affirmation distinguishes us from other Christian sects. We, like Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, most Baptists, UCCPs and other mainstream denominations, we believe in a God in three persons – in a Triune God. We believe in God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is God. This is the same God that created heaven and earth.
-          The same loving God that Moses and Abraham worshipped.
-          The same merciful God that led Israel out of Egypt.
-          The same powerful God that anointed David to be King.
-          The same God that helped David defeat his enemies.
-          The God that saved Daniel from the Lion’s den.
The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament and he lives forever. Jesus is God and he lives in eternity.
God became human with real flesh and blood in the person of Jesus. Is that possible? That is the power of God, nothing is impossible with God. God became flesh because of love – because God loved the world so much. We should rejoice that God our Lord and King came to our world.
God came into our world and this is reason for us to rejoice. That is why we sing “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” “Tignan mo yung mga katabi mo, mukha ba silang masaya o mukha ba silang inaantok?” We should happy that God came into our world. God is here with us – Emmanuel.  God is always with us from the beginning of time.
God came to us when Jesus was born.  When Jesus went back to the Father, God did not leave us. God remained with us because God is with us through the Holy Spirit. God still continues to dwell among us. Yet people celebrate Christmas every year like God never came to this world, it is as if God never became flesh and real in this world
People live in the dark like they never saw the light that is Jesus. The world lives like Jesus was never born 2000 years ago. There are still chaos and hatred. Nations are at war against nations, “wag na tayong lumayo.” Filipinos fighting against each other, the gov’t against the Muslims. There are factions in our society with the leftist and the rightist. Even within our church there are divisions, I know of some churches where people worship one after the other because they cannot worship together. Families are divided, not only those who are husband and wives who are separated, but including parent and children or siblings who fight each other because of misunderstanding, greed, pride or jealousy. And even with these chaos, we see people who are hungry and begging for food, we see kids in the streets deprived of their basic human rights to education and shelter. We see sick people die of malnutrition, we see victims of flood and disaster caused by man-made calamities. When we celebrate Christmas, we Christians in general, and United Methodists in particular, celebrate as if we never understood the message of Christmas – that God became flesh and dwelt among us.
The Greek word for dwelt among us is “ensaynoo en hemin” which literally means reside within us. When John said that God became flesh and dwelt among us – he also meant that God continues to become real and flesh in this world literally, right now and right here. The word residence means you have to live in a certain place for a certain time. As a PK (Pastor’s Kid), it was very difficult to establish residence – kapag tinatanong ako kung taga saan ako, mahirap sagutin – because every year our family moves to a new location. Even now, our family needs to adjust to that question. We need to establish our residence, a place where we stay for a long time to be able to establish our identity – kung sino kami. The same is true for us Christians. God must be able to establish residence in our hearts.
We must allow God to live in us for a long time to establish our identity that we are God’s people. This is what John Wesley emphasized to all of us that God’s prevenient grace demands a human response. It means God can only live within ourselves – if we do not kick him out, if only we let God live within our hearts.
The Christmas message is that God became flesh to bring light to this world. This Christmas, let us remember that the God that brings light to this world becomes flesh and becomes a reality in this dark world if we allow God to shine in our hearts. God becomes flesh and real to this world if we allow ourselves to be used by God – to be instruments of God.
-          God becomes flesh and real to this world with every helping hand that we extend to a friend who needs help.
-          God becomes flesh and real with every hospitality we show to strangers.
-          God becomes flesh and real with every bread and food that we share to those who are hungry.
-          God becomes flesh and real with every loving embrace we extend to those abandoned.
-          God becomes flesh and real when we literally visit the sick and those in prison.
-          God becomes flesh and real when we share what little we have to the little children who have nothing.
-          God becomes flesh and real whenever we forgive those who have caused us pain, to our officemates, to our friends, to our family who hurt us.
-          God becomes flesh and real if we allow ourselves to be the hands and feet of God in this broken world.
My dear brothers and sisters, God became flesh and lived in us. That is the good news. God lives inside each one of us. But we must show the good news to others by showing it in our actions, thoughts and words that God really lives in our lives. The God who became flesh is the true light to a dark world.
The morning sun is a reminder that the Son, the Son of God brought light in this dark world to give hope to all of us. Every morning as the sun rises, let this be a daily reminder that the one true Light shines in our dark world. Later, we will light the Christ candle as a reminder of the light that Christ brings and I implore you dear brothers and sisters that if God became flesh and lives within you, light the candle to show the Jesus shines through you and let that little light shine brightly in this dark and broken world.  
Let God become flesh and dwell among us.
In the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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