When I was a child, one of the things I loved to do at Christmas was to walk around the estate with my family to look at all the pretty lights and displays in our neighbours’ gardens. I was drawn in by the elaborate displays and how the exuberant glow in the distance would lead us from one house or street to the next. It was as if each home was dressed up and presented in all its glory – a glory that is experienced only once a year.
In today’s advent reading from the gospel of John we read:
9 ‘The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1v9-18)
The Christmas lights that lit up the streets of my childhood were artificial and sourced by man-made electricity supply connected to the houses. A supply could run out if the bills were not paid or if there were a fault with the underground wires. At the start of his gospel, John beautifully describes Jesus as a glorious and true light who gives light to everyone. It’s not a temporary fake light like the Christmas lights that lead you from house to house just once a year, but a light that has been shining bright since before the beginning of time and who created you and I. A light that is so committed to leading you to the way everlasting that he comes to earth in flesh form in order to show himself.
“To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (verse 12). Jesus is God’s glorious gift to the world. He humbled himself and came as an infant who would grow to die on the cross so that your sin may be forgiven and you can receive “grace upon grace.” (v. 16). In other words, a grace that doesn’t run out!
That is the glory of God, that he would ‘dwell among his people’ (v14) becoming like them and dying for them so that they can come directly to the throne of God and be called his children!
Jesus came and suffered and died for you so you could receive not only forgiveness for your sin but so you can experience his glory and riches for eternity, not just once a year like the Christmas lights but if you believe in him, his light (which is Jesus, God himself) will guide you and be with you right through this life and into eternity with him, only by his grace – now isn’t that glorious!
Jesus, thank you that you humbled yourself and came as a baby to grow and dwell among us; thank you for your grace and your presence, that you are with me and guiding me today and that through your grace and my faith in you that I will get to dwell in your presence for all eternity – Amen.
Yasmin Hernandez is a member of Hope Church Newham