1 John 1:1-4; John 20:2-8
Today’s scriptures are an interesting mix. In 1 John, John talks of Christ coming into the world. The Word of life was made visible. John says that what he has seen and proclaims to us, is so that we too may have fellowship. The psalmist proclaims the glory of the Lord and calls us to give thanks. And in the Gospel of John, the disciple proclaims to us about the empty tomb. He saw and he believed.
There are two things that jump out of the scripture for me at this time of year. The gift of the testimony of Saint John and the strength of Mary and Joseph as parents. It’s two days past Christmas. The gift wrapping has been tossed and my waist line is hopefully getting back to normal. Advent has come. The baby has been born. Now what?
I wonder how Joseph and Mary felt? They didn’t have friends or family on hand. They didn’t have a warm, clean hospital. Did Mary question the angel and God? Did Joseph question his decision to stick by Mary? But there was the baby. And the world was changed forever. Sometimes I question Jesus’ birth. I mean, what was God thinking? I could come up with a better plan. A baby? Why not just start with some larger than life, wealthy television personality who could use mass communication to get the message out? Born in a manger in some backwater berg in the Middle East? Why not a golden cradle in a penthouse in New York? And this baby will grow up, pick some yahoos as disciples, preach the good news, then move to the sacrifice of the cross that leads to the empty tomb?
God’s plan seems ridiculous in ways. Why does it have to be this way? And yet it’s perfect. The breathtaking miracle of new life. The inexplicable loss we experience in death. Interconnected and inseparable. And then the empty tomb. We are so lucky. We have John’s testimony. He tells us of Jesus coming into the world and the empty tomb. Joseph and Mary had a beautiful baby boy, but they did not have John’s testimony. They didn’t know what Jesus had in store for us. Their faith in God is incredible. It’s their strength and God’s plan that leads to the fellowship that John talks about. On Christmas eve I went to church to worship God and have fellowship with other believers. What a miraclulous event. I marvel that such a diverse collection of people would gather together for the purpose of glorifying God and giving thanks for the birth of the Christ. I wonder if Mary or Joseph had any idea that 2000 years later I would be thanking them for their sacrifice and for just being good parents. What an incredible and miraculous thing. What a wonderful time of year. Here’s hoping the joy and hope of Christ is with you this holiday season.
By Daniel Patrick Reilly