As we gather for worship on this Christmas Eve, we focus on one of John’s favorite words from the first chapter of the gospel: GRACE. He wrote,
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace; as the Law was given through Moses, so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. God the only Son, who is at the Father’s side, has made God known. (John 1:1, 14, 16-18)
John says what everyone knows—that no one has seen God—but he goes on to say that Jesus has made God known. Jesus, in his life and teachings, revealed God to us. In fact, he was God with us: “the Word became flesh and made his home among us.”
We’ll take a look this evening at one of Jesus’ teachings, the parable we have traditionally called “The Prodigal Son.” Here we find a son who has messed up in a big way, demanding his inheritance before his father is even dead, leaving his home, squandering the money, and then returning home broke and in shame, expecting nothing. The surprise ending for Jesus’ hearers is the amazing grace his father extends: “But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.” Note the words: “we had to celebrate.” Jesus was saying, God’s grace is such that God cannot help it—there has to be a celebration, a welcome home, a second chance for the one who has lost the way. This is who God is! To use John’s words, “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
When we take a look at our Reel Christmas selection, A Christmas Carol, we see the same story played out in a different context and a different life.
In his miserly, miserable ways, there isn’t much to love about old Ebenezer Scrooge. Spiritually speaking, Scrooge has gone into a far country and squandered his inheritance — he has lost his way and used up his life on that which didn’t matter and hurt countless people along the way. He has
no reason to expect anything other than what he has dished out to others. Yet, when Christmas morning comes, he receives the gift of a second chance, the opportunity to put behind him the ghosts of the past and live a new life. The narrator says in several of the movie versions of the classic story, “But the thing that made Scrooge happiest of all…was that his life lay before him and it could be changed.” He received “grace upon grace.”
On this Christmas Eve, I invite you to consider how the experience of God’s grace in your own life is inviting you to a new reality. I look forward to worshipping with you in our beautiful candlelight and communion services this evening and I extend my warmest wishes to you and yours for a Christmas filled with awareness of grace upon grace in your own life.
Grace and Peace to you, my friends,