Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sermon for 12/25/14: The Nativity of Our Lord



Wrapped in Flesh

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

In the Old Testament, God built a dwelling place for Himself in which to live among us. There was a beautiful tent built by Moses and the people of Israel. Inside this tent was the Ark of the Covenant, and the glory of the Lord came and stayed there in a pillar of cloud and fire. The tent is where God was. But now there is a new and everlasting Tabernacle. It is the flesh of the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit through the Word of the angel Gabriel, Jesus, the Word of God, the only-begotten Son of God, became flesh and made his dwelling among us. God has come to live among us, as one of us!

Why would He do that? Why would the Son of God who is holy and perfect come down to this world that is full of darkness and death? Why would the Son come to this world which is full of people who hate Him and despise His Word and want nothing to do with Him? This world and everything in it was made by the Word, and yet the world paid Him no attention, passed Him by, could not have cared less! But He also came to His own, those who should know Him from the Scriptures and expect Him to show up. They didn't receive Him either! Not only did the world not care; His own people didn't care.

And do we? Here we are on Christmas day, but it's just a brief pause before we go back out to our lives in which we live as if the Lord hasn't really come, as if God is not really in the flesh, as if none of it is any big deal. Why on earth would the Son of God come to such a place as this earth? St. John answers when He writes: “In Him was Life and that Life was the Light of Men. The Light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.” The Father sends His Son into this dark world to be its Light. The Father sends His Son into this dead world to be its Life! That is why the Son is made flesh. Recall how, when He was grown up and crucified for us, darkness covered the land. The darkness of our sins piled upon Christ who was judged there for them. The darkness fell upon Christ because He was exchanging it for His light! And then on the Third Day, our Lord rose, conquering death. Death is final enemy we cannot defeat. We cannot avoid it or cheat it. So Christ comes to be our Life by rising from the dead. Death has been robbed of its power! The Light of Christ the Savior shines forth in the fields over Bethlehem and from the cross, as a beacon in the darkness; our sins are forgiven. The Life of Christ burst with Him from the tomb on Easter and upon us who are now also in Him, born of God, given light and life.
But Christ doesn't just come to give us Light and Life and then leave us to ourselves once more. St. John says, “To those who received Him, He gives the right to become the children of God.” He comes to make us once again God's children. The Son of God comes as a child so that we will be God's children in Holy Baptism. That is your new birth. Christ comes to dwell as God among us so that He can save us from our sins and make us God's children, part of the Lord's family.
Today God has built a house among men: the tabernacle of His Son in the flesh. Today God Himself is born among us, and although He has ascended and we cannot see Him, Christ still dwells among us in His church. By the preaching of the Gospel and the giving of the holy Sacraments, Christ Himself lives among us and in us, making us his dwelling. God Himself indeed lives among us because the Son has come in the flesh. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” By coming in the flesh, Christ has brought light to our darkness, life to our death and made us children of His heavenly Father. There is no better gift wrapped up in this world than that given when the Son was wrapped in human flesh for us! In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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