John 1:1-14 (ESV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens 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.
This is my favourite of the Christmas stories. It was a quick read and allowed us in our family to get to the present opening as quickly as possible. It is also perfect in capturing the essential story of Jesus and His divinity and humanity.
Today has been a day when the oppressiveness of absences has really been tangible. “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus left the loving dance of the Trinity to dwell among us. He became absent. Not apart but absent. (I know this is a meditation and to dwell on how the Trinity works is mind blowing and crushing so we won’t really go there) Did Jesus feel absent? Did He know that something was different?
We can be absent in many ways or have someone else absent in our lives. Our sin can alienate us from those we love most. We could have fractured relationships that put us in the place of absences. We could be on the other side of the world from people we had shared life with for many years. It can be good reasons that make us absent and it can be terrible reasons. But one thing I am pretty sure of is that at one time we have all felt the oppressiveness of absences. We have been overwhelmed by having someone not physically present. Those moments when we are caught up in grief because we think, “They would love this…” and we can’t let them know or have them with us. Those moments when they are the only one who would get the joke, understand what you were feeling, hug you even though it is not their way, drop by unannounced, and on and on.
We were made for each other; we are not creatures of isolation. Sure we might like to be alone sometimes but we have “our people” who make us who we are. That is the oppression of absence and it is not easy.
It is a comfort to know that Jesus has walked that path as well.
Father, Hold us in the emptiness that comes in absence. Be the One we can find comfort in knowing that Jesus was absent from you. You have walked this path and know our need for comfort. Spirit, rest on us with your gentle care. Amen
Think of a person who is absent in your life that you physically feel it and reach out to them. Write them a letter. You might not have a place to send it but write it anyway and let them know how profoundly their absence affects you. Let them know that you are trusting God to fill that absences. If the absence is caused by a fracture in a relationship then take the time to repent of your part in the division. Don’t allow it to keep you separated. Jesus experienced absence in order to crucify the hostility that arises between us.