Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day



The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day

December 25, 2011
Text: John 1:1-18

We know God through Jesus Christ His Son. For “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18; ESV). You cannot see the Father. But you can hear Him in His Word. Just as our words reveal what we desire to express about ourselves, so God’s Word reveals what He wants us to know about Him. God the Son is the eternal Word of the Father. He is with God in the beginning, though He Himself has no beginning, but is begotten of the Father from all eternity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1). Father and Son dwelling together in eternal unity. It is through the Son, the eternal Word, that God does His work. God speaks the creation into being. St. John is calling us back to Genesis 1 here. God speaks His Word, “Let there be…” and there is. The Word is the Son. Through the Word, through the Son, all things were made, and without Him was not anything made that has been made (v. 3). He is the Father’s agent in creation. He is the Father’s agent in revelation. He reveals God. He is the Light that comes into the world, comes into the darkness, which the darkness is not able to overcome (v. 5). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Word of the Father, is the Light of the world.

And today He is born in the flesh. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14). That is the miracle of Christmas. The incarnation, literally, the enfleshment, of the Son of God. He is born of the Virgin Mary in the fullness of time, in the little town of Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling cloths, and laid in a manger, the feeding trough for animals. The angels proclaim His birth to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night: Peace on earth, goodwill to men, which is to say God’s peace on earth and God’s goodwill to men, because He no longer holds sinners’ sins against them. He has sent His Son to deal with sin in His sinless body. Unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ, the Lord. You can read all about it, as we did last night, in Luke Chapter 2. Our reading from John Chapter 1 this morning explains this same joyous mystery from another perspective: from the eternal, Trinitarian, cosmic perspective. In the incarnation, the conception and birth of Jesus Christ, God unites Himself to man in the flesh. God unites Himself to you in the flesh. The Creator has become one with His creation. God, as He reveals Himself in His Word, now lives and walks among His people. To redeem them. To redeem you and me. He is born among us, as one of us, that we might be born in Him, God’s own dear children, born not of the will or man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God (v. 13). And that is precisely what happens in Holy Baptism. Every Baptism is a celebration of Christmas, because in Baptism, you are united to the God who united Himself to you in the incarnation.

Through the Word of the Lord, you were made, fashioned in your mother’s womb. And through that same Word fashioned in the womb of Mary, you are made anew, re-created, born again as the Word is poured out upon you in water. Through the Son of God who became flesh to suffer and die for your forgiveness, and who is risen to new life in that same flesh, you become God’s own child. And as in the beginning, the Spirit is there, hovering over the waters, to make sense out of the chaos, to bring you to faith in Jesus, to enlighten you with the true Light that is Jesus Christ. For you are in darkness outside of Christ. You are spiritually blind and dead. You have no light and you have no life. But the Spirit brings you into the Light, that you may have Life in the Name of Jesus. It is not your own doing. It is the gift of God. It is given in the Word and the Sacraments. It is received by faith. The Word became flesh, came down to us, that He might bring us up to God and present us to His Father as His own people.

He comes down. Because we cannot ascend to Him. He comes down. He is incarnate, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. And here is the great comfort of this Gospel. We do not have a God far removed, who does not care about our problems or do anything about our sin and our pain and our death. We have a God nearby, a God who so loves us that He sends His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). We have a God who becomes Himself our High Priest, in the flesh, who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because He has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). We have a God who makes the perfect sacrifice for our sin, His own holy flesh and precious blood. We have a God who is one with us, that we might be one with Him. God and sinners reconciled, reconciled by God’s body laid in a manger, God’s body hanging on a cross. This is the Christmas gift from God, all wrapped up in swaddling cloths and human flesh. It is His fleshly Word pronouncing us righteous with His own righteousness. Rejoice, dear children of God. Today you receive from His fullness grace upon grace (John 1:16). Today the Word made flesh reveals your God to you as a God of love and compassion who saves you from your sins, who saves you from death and eternal condemnation, who saves you for joy and eternal life. He is the Light that dispels all darkness. He is the Life that dispels death and hell. And He comes to you, for you. A blessed and merry Christmas, beloved. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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