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Waiting for light

Welcome to the Waiting Room; Advent 2017  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  9:19
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At this end of Advent, we are looking for the light to come into the world. Sometimes that is physical light, sometimes that is enlightenment. Also, our task as Christians is not just to imitate Christ, but particularly at this time of year, we need to imitate John, and testify to the light.

Notes & Transcripts

What is the light that we’re waiting for?

As Christians, the light that we’re waiting for is only one thing — Jesus.
John 1:3–5 NRSV
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
But the light that we’re often waiting for in our lives is different from that. Maybe we’re looking for enlightenment — some way of knowing what to do in a certain situation. Maybe we’re looking for light to come and end some darkness in our lives — anger, depression, hurt, or so on. Maybe we’re looking not so much for a light at all, maybe we’re looking for a spark that can help create a light, or create a fire, to create warmth, heat, comfort.
Really the idea of waiting for a light to come into the world makes sense, because the darkness that is our normal lives needs some hope.
In today’s reading we talk about Jesus the light of the world. We also talk about John who came to testify to the light.
John 1:6–9 NRSV
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
There are times that I wonder where that light is now. When I read the news, or listen to it, or watch it: I see darkness and I begin to wonder where did the light go?
This light that came into the world. Where did it go?
Because, truly we need it to return and pretty quick too.
What we truly need is this:
John 1:14 NRSV
And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
We think that for people of a biblical time, this statement would make perfect sense — they’re talking about Jesus after all. However they would have had some problems with the idea of God coming into the world to live with us.
According to Thomas B. Slater, Professor of New Testament Language & Literature, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, Atlanta, Ga.
The Word becoming flesh would have been a ridiculous statement for Platonists: while a god might assume human-likeness, surely no self-respecting god would actually become human.
For the Stoics to say “the Word became flesh” could simply mean that God was at the center of human activity.

Word became flesh

Against the Platonists, it conveyed that God is indeed transcendent, but he is not aloof. God engages with the world in love. It communicated that God cares.
It also said (against the Stoics) that the Creator and the creation are not one, but it has not stopped the Creator from caring about the creation. God is still at the center of the universe for Christians, but not as a Center of control but a Center of caring.
What does it mean today for Christians to say that the Word has become flesh?
If your answer to that question comes down to that Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again, then you might need to attend Confirmation Class again.
See, if the Word has become flesh, then that Word is still flesh, and is present with us now, not just 2000+ years ago.
We may be waiting to celebrate his birth, but the reality is he’s supposed to be with us already.

How is the Word “flesh” today?

That is the end question for today: How is “the Word” “flesh”? Ultimately, through you and me is the Word made alive in the flesh. And so, if we come back to waiting for the light … maybe we’re waiting to see evidence of the light of God in the lives of others, or we’re waiting for others to bring the light of God to us — or maybe we’re waiting to be the light of the world to someone else — for that is our calling — to be light in darkness
That light that we’re waiting for — is us. As we end the season of Advent, may we proclaim the birth of Jesus and become the light of the world. For God knows that the world needs us to shine God’s light into the darkness.
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