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A Sermon for Christmas Day: Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-4, John 1:1-14
December 31, 2013, 10:22 am
Filed under: Sermons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Grace and peace to you, brothers and sisters in Christ!

Merry Christmas!

Today we celebrate one of the great, central mysteries of our faith: the God who created the universe, who wields cosmic power, is the same God who grows in an ordinary woman and is birthed: a tiny, dependent, fragile infant, breathing the same air that is recycled into our lungs today. 

Even those of us who know this story of Christmas so well can find ourselves tripping over this startling statement: the very same Jesus Christ we know as the baby in the manger and the forsaken man on the cross is the one through whom all things came into being- he is the source of all life. 

Hebrews declares: He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.

For many of us, Jesus has become so familiar that we have separated him from our image of God. God has become amorphous, powerful, and distant. Loving and good- but far beyond our grasp. To have an image of Jesus that enables you to pray, to experience God’s life-giving comfort and salvation, is a good thing. But it can be that holding that image and hearing today’s readings leaves you startled and confused. What does this cosmic, powerful Word of God have to do with Jesus? 

This is the great mystery- the one who is as close to us as a friend is the one who left great power to become that one who is so close. He is the one who returned to this position of power after his resurrection, and is now both as near to you and understanding as a best friend, and has the power to create and give life. 

On Christmas, we do things to reflect the joy of the season. We give gifts as a reflection of the greatest gift God has given us- the gift of his Son. Think of the gifts under your tree, or those gifts you have wrapped for others. Imagine them before they are opened. They are covered, their shape is obscured by boxes or bags. For the one receiving the gift, what the package contains is a mystery. It is a mystery that is shortly to be revealed.

 

Even though it is short-lived, the element of unknown, of revelation, of joyful surprise, is one of the most faith-reflective aspects of our Christmas celebration. Each gift is a little re-enactment of what God is doing in our midst. You know the gift is given in love for you, but what it is, or the process it took for someone to get it for you, is unknown. Each shake of the package or tear of the paper reveals a little bit more about what is inside. 

In the Bible, we hear the witness of thousands of generations pointing to the God who has entered their lives in love. We hear how God is faithful despite their unfaithfulness. We hear how God creates, how God protects, how God provides, and how God saves. Each witness reveals a tiny corner of the package of who God is. 

 

When Jesus comes, we find that we may have thought we had seen most of the shape of who God is. But we had only felt a part of it. Jesus rips open our guessed at images to reveal a God who loves even more deeply than we expected. Jesus shows us a God who acts beyond all human imagination in his lavish work of love. 

 

It is out of incredible love for you that the holy creator of the universe left power, put on human flesh, and entered our existence. It is out of abundant love for you that the source of all life was crucified and died. It is out of steadfast love for you that Jesus was raised from the dead and unites you with himself, so that even death will not separate you from the life-giving God. 

 

There is much about Jesus’ incarnation that remains a mystery. What has been clearly revealed is God’s love for you. Love has brought the life and light of God into your life. Jesus Christ has been born today for you. This is the most unexpected and wonderful gift we will ever receive. 

 

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