The circus comes to town! But no one notices…
They parade down the street, Elephants striding, Tigers growling, Lions leaping, clowns clapping, the trapeze artists flipping, the music bombasting, the greatest show ashowing, and no one sees…walking by, stepping around, driving away.
It was such a sight not to see.
They set up the Giant Circus Tent, with those bright red and yellow stripes so as not to call attention.
They set up that Big Tent right on the city square and start selling tickets to just about nobody.
The greatest show on earth! Hidden in plain sight.
God moves into the neighborhood, God pitches God’s tent, God tabernacles on the city square, and no one notices.
That is how John’s Gospel begins: with glory, wonder, and a deep lonely sadness. With an irony that breaks the heart. The glory of God is unrecognized and rejected.
That is who Jesus is, the bright red and yellow circus tent of God that no one sees.
And we are invited to become children of this lonely forgotten and rejected God.
To join the circus with the great big empty tent, a sight not to see.
That is Christmas in the Gospel according to John.
Over and over the same story plays out again and again, of not seeing, of rejecting and for a blessed few who do see, the ones we least suspect, life begins anew, born again.
That great line from the hymn Amazing Grace, “ I once was blind but now I see” comes from John’s Gospel.
The Christmas Season continues today with a deeper darker message, of wonders unseen, of God’s children walking out of step and of gathering darkness blinding the sight.
And with that beautiful sadness comes the invitation to become the children of God, to participate in the divine revealing that is not well received.
The power to become the children of God that is always the message on this first Sunday after Christmas Day.
It is an ironic invitation, the power to become unnoticed, the power to become powerless, the power to be rejected, the power of grace in a world that knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing.
John’s Gospel was written by and for the people who feel the pain of not being seen for who they are. For those who are turned away, rejected, cast out for recognizing the glory of God shining in their lives.
Jesus brings an unwelcomed restoration, and God’s children share in that glory and that pain.
It is the strangeness of God, to take that blindness and make it sight, to take rejection and make it invitation. To take the darkness and turn it into light.
Jesus, the unseen, is God’s sight of all who are unseen.
Jesus, the unheard, is God’s attentive listening to of all those who unheard.
Jesus, the forsaken and forgotten, is God’s remembering of all that are forgotten.
Jesus is God’s Big Circus Tent, with lots of room, the roominess of God for those who are cast aside.
The one who is unseen and cast aside is the one who sees and makes room.
Jesus is God’s turning that darkness back on itself, the dark becomes light.
The strangeness of God that takes death and turns it into life.
And God’s children are strange in the same way.
We have been given the power of Jesus, to hear, to see, to remember, to make room for the glory that is the light of all humanity, to turn darkness back on itself.
That is the message of the Christmas season.
The strangest circus has come to town.
The greatest show on earth.
The children of God have returned.
They parade down the street, Elephants striding, Tigers growling, Lions leaping, clowns clapping, the trapeze artists flipping, the music bombasting, the greatest show ashowing.
Most don’t see it, walking by, stepping around, driving away. Some oppose it and a blessed few join in on the parade, beholding and showing forth that bright circus tent, such a sight not to see.
Hear, see, remember, make room. Make the dark light.
We have been given the power to pay attention, to see the wonder and the glory that fills this life.
Join the circus and behold.