The John of the fourth gospel, writes about the Baptist being the one who is “a witness to the light.” Unlike some of the other gospels – and John the Baptist appears in all the gospels – the fourth gospel cares nothing for how John was dressed. Luke says that John had a very peculiar diet and lived out in the wilderness. John tells us nothing of this. Luke also says that John called people to repent of their sins, to set their lives right. When people asked John what they ought to do, John told them to straighten up and live right. But not in the Gospel of John. In John’s gospel, John is not even called John the Baptist. He is a “witness,” a witness to the light.
Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the fulfillment of our deepest hopes. He is light into our darkness, the embodiment of all of God’s glory, full of grace and truth.
I can’t stand it when people ask that favorite pre-Christmas question, usually addressed to a child, “What do you hope to get for Christmas?” Such a question plays right into the hands of the commercialism and materialism that mars the Christmas season. As Christians, we know that Christmas is more than greed or gifts. Christmas is about the birth of the Christ child.
And yet one could learn a great deal from the question, “What do you hope to get for Christmas?” For if you know our hopes, you know us fairly well. If you want to know who a person really is, and plans to be, inquire into what that person is hoping for. We hope to find peace in our anxious lives. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping that the music of the hymns, the words of scripture and preaching, may fill us with a sense of peace. So we come to church on Sunday morning hoping for an interesting sermon, something that will help us to use our minds, something that will test our intellects, make us think about things in a way we haven’t thought before. What are you hoping for?