1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
In the beginning. The beginning of John’s gospel depicts us Jesus as the Word of God, trough whom everything, that exists, is made. It gives a comforting picture of the creation – God has the power over the world.
In May 1990, I travelled to Berlin. The Berlin wall had fallen some months ago, and I wanted to see it before it would be demolished. Those days I didn’t plan my travels much. I made no hotel reservations or so. I was satisfied with no plans until a Lady, a Berliner got me worried somewhere between Hamburg and Berlin. She explained me how dangerous place I was going to. And that we were going to arrive in the middle of the night. After listening her for a while, I started realizing how foolish my travel plan was, or the fact that I didn’t have one. The train arrived in Berlin in time and now it seemed to me like a hostile place. I walked the streets for a while having only one thought in my mind: “I have to find an Inn, a hotel – anything - and quickly.” I went to the first hotel I saw and took a room without asking a price - very unusual of me. In the hotel room I felt finally safe. Although I was still in the same environment, walls and a roof made me feel safe enough to fall asleep. It is interesting /strange how easily our feeling of safety can crumble and again how easily it can be built up again.
When we read the Christmas story according to Luke, it is easy to sympathise with Joseph and Mary, who late at night and alone arrive in a small town of Bethlehem and find no accommodation there. Finally, a shelter for animals - that may have been just a roof over their heads or a cave, had to do. Although this place was better than nothing, they were still exposed to many of the same dangers as when they were on the road. There was no real shelter against cold, wild beasts or robbers – not to speak about some privacy, that one may want during and after childbirth.
It is true that some places on the earth are safer than others, but most of us live under the same threats throughout our lives. Then something happens and we are shaken to our very core, like many incidents during the past year, have shown us. Places, like Christmas market in Berlin turn into scenes of terrible violence and evilness. We may start asking: “Could this happen also here. Could this happen to me?“News channels and some people are also more than willing to share their thoughts about the threats around us. And suddenly the world feels a hostile place and mistrust and doubt about our well being takes over. We start to fear for ourselves and for our loved ones although the possibility of the thing or incident that we have started to fear has always been there. It is just something that we have managed to keep out of our minds.
I don’t know whether Mary or Joseph feared, but all the elements for fear and worrying were in their situation. Joseph and Mary had, however what people don’t necessarily have. They were assured that they were part of God’s plan. It gave them hope that no matter what comes and how frightening it is going to get, it is going to be all right at the end. It is the same thing as we tell our children, when they are afraid. It is our duty as adults to assure them: “Don’t be afraid. It is going to be all right.” In this manner, we don’t grow much. Our fears may change, but the fact that every now and then we do fear something – that stays. And sometimes the fear can get a hold of a whole community or a nation and the fear becomes a danger itself.
In these situations we need people, who will become the voice of the angel that says: “Don’t be afraid.” And it is possible, if we trust that God is in power. Whatever happens, this is His world. It is so easy just to pass on the fear – be part of the evil chain just by being passive. And it is so difficult to fight the evil, to be brave, maybe even a little bit naïve and trust that God has the whole world in his hand and spread this kind of message around us.
The good news is that God is trustworthy. He has shown to the world that He loves us and cares about us. God has a plan to save the world. Joseph and Mary were part of that plan and it gave them courage; you and I are part of that plan, too.