Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Sermon

Christmas Day, 2010 – John 1:1-14

In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Newborn King +
John starts us off this morning, not in Bethlehem, but in Genesis. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” We are sent in our minds to the very beginning – to when God first spoke the Word, “Let there be light.” That Word, that Word that came from the mouth of the Father, that Word was God. That Word created all things that are, that exist. It was that Word which brought forth life and order to creation, that Word which called forth the plants and animals. That Word was the tool for creation – indeed, for your creation. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” This Word of God brought, gave, created, established life. And when He had done so, it was good.

Yet, Eden did not remain good. Sin crept in, and mankind fell. Mankind turned away from God, turned away from the Word, and so turned unto sin and death and darkness. The fall was an abandoning of the gifts God had given to us, a look of disdain upon His gift of life and all the blessings He had given. And lured by the whispers of the serpent, mankind fell. And in that fall, there would be left no escape for us, no way we could reconcile or justify ourselves, no hopes of somehow worming our way out of it. We gave ourselves over to darkness and doom and despair, and there we would stay, at least if we were left all on our own.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” While we may have failed and fallen, the Word of God who created us did not fail, nor did He fall. He was still life, He was still the light of men. God would not have us fallen men be consigned over to death and hell; He would not have us be sundered from Him for all time – so He decides to intervene. The Word was life, the Word was the light of men, so the Father would once again send forth His Word – but instead of creating, this time the Word would become Man Himself in order to redeem, restore, forgive, and justify us sinful men. The Word would re-create man back into what we were meant to be, what we were before the Fall – holy and blameless and innocent in God’s sight. And so God began to prepare us for this. He told Adam and Eve in the garden that the Messiah would come and crush the head of the serpent. He made His promise to Abraham, that all nations would be blessed through his seed. He delivered His children Israel from bondage in Egypt, foreshadowing their deliverance from bondage to sin. He established the tabernacle, the place where God’s presence would dwell on earth with man so that we might be prepared for this idea of God being with us – something that had terrified us since the garden. He sent the prophets to proclaim Immanuel, God with us. And, as the fullness of time approached, He sent John. “There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”

And there was John, preaching in the wilderness – repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, for your deliverance approaches. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” This is the message John preached. The promised One, God Himself, had come. This is what we celebrate this day – this Child in Bethlehem is God Himself, is the Word of God incarnate, God taking on our Flesh, come to be with us, to restore us to life and salvation. This is why we gather this day – for God has not abandoned us, but has provided for us salvation, has provided in His Son Christ Jesus our own hopes of life and forgiveness. Christ Jesus, the light of men, the light that is life, comes into this world, and He shines His light on you, He enlightens you, He makes you to live again, live as God had intended you to live in the Garden. This is what the Christ child came to do.

Yet what do we hear? “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” This too is what John preached, what John warned us of. Last week we heard John say, “Among you stands One you do not know.” And indeed, in the Gospels we see the rejection of Christ. In the Epistles, we hear of the false doctrines which obscure and hide the Word of God under darkness again. This is the sad reality of this world – that many who dwell in darkness are content to remain there. Be that as it may, hear how our Gospel describes you. “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” But to you who have received Christ, you who have been baptized, united to Him, you have been restored. You have been made again a child of God, redeemed, forgiven. Your baptism is the evidence, the proof, the accomplishing of this – all the wonders, all the good that this Christ Child would do, indeed, even His death and resurrection, that is yours now, for you have been tied to Christ Jesus in Baptism, and you are now a child of God.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And God has come to be with you, not just for a time, not just for a brief visit, but to dwell with you. Just as the tabernacle, just as the temple was to be the place where God dwelt among His people of old, now, in these days, and indeed throughout all eternity, Christ Jesus dwells with you as your brother. Right now, this very instant, Christ Jesus is a man, a human being – this Body that He took up in His incarnation is still His, and because He lives, we too know that we will live and that we will be with Him as He is forever. But His dwelling with us is not just a future thing. This moment, this day, Christ our Lord dwells us with – for in a few moments we will unwrap His gift to us, and He will come down from Heaven to this very altar and to give to us His own true Body and Blood so that we receive His forgiveness, so that He enlighten us and make us to shine forth His light, so that He quite literally will be with us, never to leave us alone, never to forsake us, but always to be God with us and God for us – always to be God who redeems us.

My dear friends, this Christmas morn, we see the beginning of our restoration, we see the beginning of Christ Jesus coming to win us life and salvation, we see the establishment of the life and faith that we share and participate in even today. Christ Jesus is God with us, God dwelling with us – and through this, by His life, death, and resurrection, the Fall is undone, death is conquered and destroyed, life is restored to us, and we have hope, we have the surety of life everlasting with God. Why? Because God became man so that we might be saved and restored and called once again children of God. This truth shines forth upon us all this day, and so we rejoice. Though the world does not know or recognize it, though it might be spoken of less and less out there – my dear friends, and hearty and joyous and indeed everlasting Merry Christmas to you all. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost +

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