Amazing Grace

John 1:10-18
Gospel Reading for Second Sunday after Christmas (Year C)

On Coldplay's most recent album, there is a track titled "Kaleidoscope." You probably won't ever hear it on the radio because it less a song and more of a sound collage. But it ends with a sample of President Barack Obama singing "Amazing Grace" at Clementa Pickney's funeral last summer. The first time I listened to the album was on a run and that hymn almost brought me to standstill.

It is remarkable how much John Newton's hymn resonates with us. The lyrics and melody seem to be imprinted on our DNA. And it's not just in the DNA of Christians. "Amazing Grace" seems to speak to a need deep down within each of us. We all know what it feels like to be lost and yearning to be found. We all want to be loved in spite of our brokenness. In a world as hard as this, we need grace like we need oxygen.

In the majestic prologue that opens the Gospel of John, the writer tells us that the Word, the Greek logos, became flesh and dwelt among us. Not only that but this logos-in-human-form was full of grace and truth. Later on in verse 16, it says that out of the grace that walked among us we have received "grace upon grace." I have always loved that phrase.

In my imagination, I saw Jesus smuggling grace into this world. The love that he showed and the truth that he preached were like aid packages air-dropped into an oppressed and occupied land. The grace was unexpected yet desperately needed. Throughout the gospels, you can see people stop in their tracks when the lyrics and melody hit them: the amazing grace that emanated from the logos-made-flesh named Jesus.