1 John 1
We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Both the Gospel of John and his First Letter open with words that invite us to reflect upon a time of beginning. In his gospel he writes: In the beginning was the Word, and in his first letter he writes: We declare to you what was from the beginning. As we journey through these days that lie between our celebration of the Nativity of Christ and the start of a new calendar year, it is appropriate that we should pause and reflect upon that which has been there since the beginning of all time, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and on the difference that might make in our lives.
For those who are completely immersed in the secular world, Christmas is over. People are beginning to look at the boxes that will hold all those decorations for another year with a certain longing in their eyes. But, of course, Christmas is not over. The Church’s celebration of Christmas will go on until the Feast of Candlemas on 2nd February. So far, we have only witnessed the birth of the baby in Bethlehem and the worship of the shepherds. The Wise Men have not yet arrived in Bethlehem and the first steps towards making Christ known in the world have yet to be taken.
The birth of Christ is a moment of beginning. From the beginning of time, God has tried to communicate with humanity; God has tried to foster and maintain a relationship of faithfulness, humility, love and service. But … humanity’s resistance finally led God to take the most significant step of all … the step that would bring him into the totality of the human experience.
The opening of John’s gospel makes it clear that Jesus, the Word, was present from before the moment of creation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. John, the same John, reinforces this message when he writes to the believers in western Asia Minor: We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life. John, who was both apostle and evangelist, is joining the shepherds in glorifying and praising God for all he had heard and seen as he had journeyed with Jesus throughout his earthly ministry.
Rather than being grateful that we have ‘survived’ Christmas 2021, we are called to consider what new beginning has opened for us. Too often, we join with those who rush to get back to those ‘normal’ ways of life. Too often we forget just how special the birth of Jesus was. Too often we forget to strip away the tinsel and commercialism and seek the small, vulnerable child who was born into this world in the humblest of circumstances.
Let us pray that Christmas 2021 might be a time of ‘beginning’ for each and every one of us. Let us pray that we might join John, apostle and evangelist, in telling the Good News of Christ’s birth with conviction and joy. Let us pray that, no matter what may befall us in the coming days and months, we might be ready to come to that stable in December 2022, changed and renewed, ready for yet another new beginning in the faith which excites and sustains us.