As the #2 pastor in my church, I participate in the worship services, but I don't routinely preach the sermon on the “big” holidays. That is the job of the Senior Minister. But I did get to do just that in the 11 months that I served as solo pastor while we were seeking a new Senior Minister. In planning the Christmas Eve service, the music director and I chose scriptures to be read and music to tell the story, and I preached a short message. As we began the service, my friend John stood up to read. He reminded us that on Christmas Eve 1968 these same words from Genesis were read by the Apollo 8 astronauts as the TV audience watched the first-ever live footage of the Earth from the space capsule orbiting the moon.
Genesis 1 KJV
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
Many in the congregation that evening were old enough to remember that broadcast. Though I was in my early teens then, I was profoundly moved by the grainy images of Earth from space and the incredible beauty of the words being read. John's brief sharing of that memory was a powerful reminder of the beauty and timelessness of the Word of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness,and the darkness has not overcome it.
The Word here is Jesus. God's Son, present with God at the very beginning of time, became the living embodiment of the scriptures. These scriptures tell of God's creation, people, and love, even through the constant failings of the people!The scriptures tell of a savior, a messiah, who would redeem God's people.
At Christmas, we remember the birth of Jesus, the baby who gave up heaven to live in and with His own creation. Jesus became human to be with us as fully as possible, purely out of love. Jesus being human means that he felt hunger, thirst, fatigue. As an adult, He felt the aches and pains of a long's day's work, the struggle of a sleepless night. And He would ultimately face the worst form of execution that humanity could dole out, again purely out of love. As we celebrate this Christmas, let us remember that Love, that incomparable, nearly unfathomable love. Let us endeavor to live in that love throughout the holiday season and the coming year. Celebrate with the Bible, God's Word; and with the Living Word, Jesus Christ, always in our hearts.
"Earthrise" photo from the Apollo 8 mission. from Nasa.gov site.