Jeremiah 31:7-14; John 1:1-5, 9-18
You know that room in your home where, when you have people coming over, you stuff everything in it and close the door? We all have that room that we hope no one ever sees.
And we all have those parts of our lives that we hope no one ever sees. The place where all our personal junk is stored. The part of us that we never let the public see.
Yet it is to these parts of our lives, these parts of our world, that Jesus has come. And the gospel writer John makes it clear. Jesus is in our junk rooms.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that the Gospel of John is not my favorite. So much of his gospel strikes me as imagery and spirituality detached from practicality. He can come across to me as so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good.
Except here. In the first chapter, John’s description of Jesus is real life, concrete, earthy, dirty, flesh and bones. John goes out of his way to make the point that this eternal, spiritual, heavenly God is as real; as human; as blood pumping, air breathing, bodily functioning present as any of us. The Word of God–that which existed before time began–now has become one of us. The Word of God–responsible for the creation of everything that exists–has taken on the same flesh and blood is us. God is present with us not just spiritual, ethereal way, but physically, tangibly as well. God is now incarnate–in the flesh.
This is desperately important to John to make clear, right away. God enters the world we know. God is present in the world we touch and feel. God comes into the reality of our blood, our pain, our confusion, our doubts, our fears, our work, our money, our family. God enters in, not just symbolically or floating around the edges where we can invite God when convenient, but fully into the mess and the joy, the shame and the triumph of every day. Jesus is in our junk rooms.
In Jesus, God has entered into everything–good and bad, spiritual and physical, believing it unbelieving, Christian and non-Christian. Like it or not, wanted or not, recognize it or not. God is in the midst of your life–every tiny part of it. Holy and unholy, secret and public. The Word has come among us.
That’s why John writes of the presence of Christ as “the true light which enlightens everyone.” I don’t know about you, there are segments of my life I prefer not to have God present in–not to have a light shined on. Parts of my past I’d like to pretend never happened; some of the ways I use money (or don’t) I’d like God not to mess with; some of my attitudes and ways of dealing with people I’d prefer God just respectfully keep a divine nose out of.
But John makes clear that this is not who God is or how God works. God’s light comes into the world, into my world, and it shines on everything. God is now present in everything; because it is the intention and purpose of God incarnate to make everything and everyone holy. Flesh and blood, bread and wine, water and word, sacred and secular, all of it is being redeemed, saved, enlightened, made holy. All of it. All of us. Even our junk rooms.
We cannot stop God. God didn’t enter the world because we invited God to do so. God just came. The Word just became flesh. Jesus is just present. The God who created us is just grabbing hold of us, shining a divine light on us, and making us holy. God opens our past, messes with our relationships, laughs at our plans, touches our finances, inspires our creativity, gathers us in community, forgives our selfishness, makes whole our brokenness, and loves us deeply all the while. We know this because God has become flesh, and this God incarnate has revealed this to us about God. In John’s words, “it is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
God has come. The Word is made flesh. Jesus is present with us. The manger is in our lives. And we can’t help but be changed by that. Jesus is in our junk rooms. We are becoming different people–new people. And that’s good news: for us and for our world.