John 1:1-18 (NRSV)
Chapter 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Verse 2He was in the beginning with God. Verse 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being Verse 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Verse 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. Verse 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. Verse 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. Verse 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. Verse 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. Verse 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. Verse 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. Verse 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, Verse 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. Verse 14And 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.
Verse 15(John testified to him and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'") Verse 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. Verse 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. Verse 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known.
Every Christmas Eve, my congregation gathers for worship at sunset. As many other churches do, we conclude the service with a candlelit singing of "Silent Night." It is breathtakingly beautiful, every time. But before those first candles are lit, the sanctuary is very dark. The only other time of the year we experience such darkness in worship is on Good Friday after we have extinguished all the candles. That God became flesh, was born a human, and lived among us also meant that God would face death. What is born must someday die. Yet Christ, who is the life and the light of all people, still shines in the darkness and will never be overcome by it.
As the short, dark days begin to lengthen again in the Northern Hemisphere, may you find light and life in communion with others. Long after the candles burn out, Christ abides with us still.
Enlightening God, you scatter the darkness with the flame not even death can snuff out. Today, help us to see the ways in which you bring life and immortality to light, and help us to witness faithfully to that light. Amen.