“The year was 2020”. I think we may hear that for many years going forward. Yes, this is going to be a marker year in history not just for our community our country but for the entire world. 2020 will be one of those years that is talked about in history books forever. This year we’ve all taken adaptability and flexibility to a new level. Pivoting at any given moment. Every organization and institution have had to figure out how to do things differently. Home has become our go to place. We’ve made tough decisions – like will I wear a face mask or a face shield. Or will I use Microsoft teams or zoom? I was in shock that I was able to figure out how to schedule a zoom meeting. Remember your first zoom meeting? I couldn’t figure out how to unmute – and people kept talking over each other – it was a mess. I’m still not great at it – but I’m getting better. We now know how to stand on dots everywhere we go – and keep a bit of distance between us and others. And – I always have hand sanitizer surrounding me. Yes, it’s been a year of change.
While change has been a constant this year so has vacancy. We’ve seen a lot of empty things. Empty restaurants, empty bars, empty stores, empty schools, empty sporting arenas and fields and stadiums - empty theaters and museums - even empty churches. Yes, emptiness has been kind of a theme for this year and for many of us maybe we’ve personally felt empty because we’re drained and tired and weary. We haven’t had enough personal connection. The emptiness has led to loneliness and isolation. Some of us have lost loved ones – some of us have lost jobs – some of us have lost relationships - some of us have worked harder this year than ever before fighting a battle we feel will never win. The year was 2020 – a year for the history books.
As you look back over 2020 – what have you learned? What have you done to fill the emptiness? Who/what have you turn to fill that void? Where have you found life this year? (walking away from that location)
Let’s take a look at some scripture that may help us do that – we’re going to be in the book of John – John’s account is different than the other gospels – it is not narrative in form – and is written by someone very familiar with Jesus – giving you different insights into who He is and what He did - in the 1st chapter of John verse 14 – John says
14 So the Word became human[a] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[b] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
The word became human and lived among us – the word which is God – in the form of Jesus came to live among us – the finite God – that created the universe – space and time - walking on earth – experiencing all we experience – feeling all we feel – the only God man that ever did this – so he could draw close to us
Why did he do this? Because –
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.
This little verse is so full of both love and faithfulness. God’s love is evident in that the Word came to us and lived among us and gave us a picture of His glory. And his faithfulness is evident in that this Word came from his father just for this purpose – to be with us and reveal himself to us in flesh so we could see him. Jesus, God’s unique son, had come in the flesh – something unimaginable and yet true. And John had seen him!
And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
He’d seen his glory and his presence, and what he’d found in that presence was God’s grace toward him and God’s truth for him. This was all overwhelming
Are you overwhelmed by this? By God in human form – full of love and faithfulness toward us – his presence all around us
Interestingly 2020 vision means that you can see acutely – you can see with clarity
As you look back at 2020 – do you have 2020 vision – can you see where he has loved you – can you see his faithfulness? Do you see his glory?
And then he goes a step further in verse 16
16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
Tim in his notes on John summed this verse up like this:
Grace, when it is exhausted, is immediately replaced by another grace.
It’s the continual involvement of Christ’s fullness in our lives. We get to a point where it seems grace toward us would have to be exhausted. What more can He do? And then all of the sudden -bam a whole new load of grace floods over us. His grace will never run out – it’s never empty – no matter how much we need now or how much we’ll need in the future.
Have you seen, experienced, tasted that grace this past year? This abundant Grace? Can you see where that grace has filled the voids and the emptiness in ways you hadn’t before? Maybe you haven’t even taken time to process this – take moment now…
And can you trust this grace as we enter 2021? God – the Word – came to earth to live amongst us – to experience and feel all that we do – and ultimately to take all of our sin and hurt to the cross – he took all of our brokenness and endured excruciating pain so we could be free – thru his love and faithfulness we can be whole. Amazing grace
As we say goodbye to 2020 and enter into 2021 – let this time in December as we have focused on the incredible act of God coming to earth – move you into 2021 with a new sense of anticipation.
As you look back to 2020 and recognize where he has been loving and faithful let that knowledge propel you into 2021 with expectation.
As we acknowledge where we have seen God’s love, goodness, faithfulness, strength, mercy and abundant grace in the past – then we can move into the future with a renewed sense of hope and even joy.