Christmas Day 2018

John 1:1-18

The Child Who is the Word

December 25, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

St. John proclaims loud and clear for the world to hear that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  We can hardly grasp the great significance of this. The Word that was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God, became man. In doing so, Jesus pitched His tent, He tabernacle among us, He made His dwelling place in this fallen creation as a man. The greatest honor that we can knowing that God Himself became man. It is not that we can turn to God but that God has turned to us. Jesus became flesh in His incarnation. Jesus shares in our humanity.

In this feast of the Nativity of our Lord, the Epiphany, Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost have their beginning and their purpose. For if Christ hadn’t been born according to the flesh, he wouldn’t have lived the life of a human, though without sin. He wouldn’t have been crucified and raised, which is Easter. He wouldn’t have sent the Spirit, which is Pentecost.

What He once put on, He will never take off.  From the moment of His incarnation He was not only the eternal Word of God, but He is also your brother, flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. Even now, exalted at the right hand of the Father, He bears the resurrected body He took for Himself in Mary’s womb still marked with the scars of His crucifixion.  This is the great mystery, and the great joy, of Christmas.

The Epistle for this morning calls Jesus the Son. In the Gospel, He is the Word. God speaks to us by the Son, who is the Word made flesh. We have seen His glory, glory as of the Son from the Father. That is why we are here, because the Lord of Creation, the only begotten Son of God, God of God, light of light, very God of very God comes. We can’t travel back 2000 years to kneel with the shepherds in awe. We can’t hold the child in our arms as Mary and Joseph did. We can’t go to our Lord, but as He came, so He still comes, and He will come again.

Luther once recounted a medieval legend in his Christmas sermon in 1534, “The story is told in the papacy that at one time the devil came to Mass in a church. And when in the Patrem – the Nicene Creed – the words were sung “Et homo factus est – and He was made man – and the people did not kneel but stood, the devil slapped one of them on the mouth so that he saw stars, cursed him terribly and said, “You gross knave! You cursed fool! Are you not ashamed to stand here like a stick and not to fall on your knees for joy? If God’s Son had become our Brother as He has become yours, our joy would be so great that we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.”

“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Today that salvation is again extended to you as a gift from this Child’s altar. It’s Christmas, the Mass of Christ, that is to say, the Service of Holy Communion wherein the Lord comes to us and we humble receive His gifts with praise and thanksgiving. Here, today, in just a short while, Jesus is giving you the best gift—His very body and blood. A gift that forgives your sins, renews your zeal for good works, and enlivens your love. The body that He took from the Virgin He gave for all on the cross and He gives to us in the Sacrament today. The blood He shed He gives to us with the wine.  He has put all His grace in this Sacrament so that sinners may know where the Lord comes to meet them. And as we meet Him, we kneel before our Lord, not just to receive, but to proclaim that this is Christ, the King, who comes to us.

Our very presence at the Lord’s Table is a declaration on our part that we believe in this. As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. By our eating and drinking, we bear witness to our families and friends, our neighbors and community that Christ became man and gave Himself for me, that He might redeem me from all evil, from death, from my sin. I renounce the devil and all His works and all His ways. I reject the worldly passions, though I still struggle with them daily in my sinful flesh. I look to Christ incarnate for forgiveness, life, and salvation. And that I await my blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of my God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Blessed are you who receive this Holy Sacrament, the real presence of the Word made flesh given to you in, with, and under the bread and wine and so declare your faith in the grace of God that has appeared to all men. Come, as pardoned and redeemed sinners, and by faith kneel and lay a hold of Christ for you. Behold His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, given and shed for you. The darkness of sin has not overcome Christ, and it shall not overcome you who are in Christ.[1]

[1] Some of this sermon is adapted from Lindemann, The Sermon and Its Propers, Vol 1, pp. 74-75.