GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD!
TEXT: John 1: 14: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Dearly Beloved in Christ, The Word Made Flesh:
If CNN had a breaking headline that said: “God Has Come to Earth in Concord New Hampshire” what would your reaction be? “It’s a hoax?” “It’s too early for April Fools?” Or, would you believe it? More importantly, would you drive up I 93 to find Him? And if you got there and met God, what would you say to Him?
Today, our Christmas Gospel written by St. John states: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.” That means the Eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on human flesh and blood, intruded into our time and space, and lived for 33 years on planet earth. The Word was employed by God the Father in creating the universe.—He said: “Let there be” and “there was.” Or, as John says earlier in his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Then John also says in our lesson: “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John walked, talked, ate and drank with God. He touched Him. Jesus was real. More importantly, Christ touched John! Not just physically, but deep within his heart and soul. He changed John from the inside out from sinner to saint. He poured His grace, His undeserved love, into John’s heart. He worked faith within him. Yes, as John later writes in one of his epistles: “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin.” Christ, the Word, made John right with God by forgiving all his sins. He took away John’s guilt before God over his imperfections—He took it away forever! And it all began on that first Christmas.
Today we’re about 2000 years removed from these events. Today some people believe them and celebrate accordingly. But most view them as a hoax, a myth, fanciful words, or just an excuse to have a good time. Most cannot fathom God meeting human beings. Most would say: “It’s just a “spiritual truth” for spiritual people to embrace, but it has no foundation in modern reality.” Ah, but it does!
Obviously, The Word, Christ, was the eternal Son of God before He assumed a human nature. Likewise, even though the Word now has ascended into heaven, He still is God’s Son and our Savior. He’s just as real right now as He was when He laid in the manger or hung on the cross. The Word is the Word and always will be the Word! But, where do we find this eternal Word, our Savior, today? Where does He reveal His glory to us? That’s the question.
Isaiah the prophet in the 55th chapter of his book tells us this: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” But where do we find Him and where is He near? Look again at John’s inspired writings: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.” The Gospel, the good news of Christ, the Christmas story, reveals the Word to us. Likewise, at your baptism you were washed not merely with water, but water connected to the Word: “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Then, too, in the Lord’s Supper, Christ connects Himself, dwells with us, hidden under bread and wine with His very body and blood for our salvation.—As He Himself says of it: “This is my body, this is my blood.” St. Augustine said it well as quoted by one of our formal church confessions: “When the Word is added to the element, then it becomes a sacrament” (a holy thing.) Indeed, we find the Baby Jesus today whenever and wherever the Gospel is preached and whenever His sacraments are properly administered. So, today, “God with us” means right here at Pinewood Lutheran Church in Burlington, MA!
“But, Pastor, it’s not the same as Christ lying in a manger at Bethlehem.” Again, that’s letting sentimentality get in the way of Godly reality. The Word is the Word and always will be the Word! Does Christ give you His grace, His forgiveness for your many holiday slights of Him this very day? Of course! Does Christ wash your soul clean when you rejoice over your baptism? Of course! Does Christ touch you deep inside when He removes the stain of inner guilt during absolution? Of course! Does Christ physically and spiritually dwell within your mortal body, thus making it immortal through Holy Communion? Of course! All these are avenues, means, ways, modes used by Christ to come to us. Just because Christ chose to come as a Baby that first Christmas doesn’t mean He’s essentially less Godly than when He dwelt in heaven without a body before His nativity. And now, after the fact, whenever and wherever He promises to be, He is! Yes, the “Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.”
People always think of the nativity as some far off event in the mists of time. They dream of what it must have been like to be there and touch God as an infant. They imagine that somehow that was far superior and more real than anything we can ever experience today. Ah, how limited we humans are when it comes to grasping and understanding the ways of God! Our Christmas, this Christmas is every bit as real and joyous as the one the shepherds experienced! Why? Because “The Word” dwells among us today! The Word meets you and embraces you right now!
You don’t have to drive to Concord NH to meet God. You don’t have to brave traffic jams, crowds, or stampedes to have God touch you with His grace. No, He does it today as He did it that first Christmas, quietly and humbly right here at His church. We’re blest! Amen