Saturday Sermon: A sermon for Christmas
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In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The word became flesh and made his dwelling 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, John 1:1-5, 14.
By Christmas Eve, most of us are very tired, worn out by endless hours of planning, shopping, overtime at work and generally trying to get everything done. Some, like my friend Jason, have traveled thousands of miles to get home. My own daughters are traveling from Dallas and California.
That first Christmas Eve, more than 2,000 years ago, there was a little 13- or 14-year-old girl who had traveled more than 20 miles, while in full-term pregnancy, walking or riding a donkey, who was a lot more worn out than any of us. She had shuffled many miles in her pregnancy, to an older cousin's home, then on here to this little town of Bethlehem with her husband, Joseph.
She was probably frightened and didn't know what to expect because it was her first child, and they couldn't find a place to stay. Finally, when they were allowed to use a stable, the baby was born.
That night, after 400 silent years, God again spoke to his people by appearing as one of us. This tiny baby was born, so God could identify with the suffering of man and could suffer and die, that man could live eternally.
Martin Luther said, "Look for no other God than the one lying in the crib, nursing at the breast of his mother, and hanging dead on a cross."
The word became flesh and dwelt among us. The core of Christmas lies in the incarnation of God. The only way to see God in his glory is to go to the manger, as the shepherds did that night, or later to the house, as the Magi did when they arrived, or to the cross, where he hung for our sins.
We can't physically do these things, but we can by coming together with our brothers in communion, in worship and in fellowship. The son of God did command us to the communion table. This was to bring us together in one body, to serve as his body on Earth, to communicate his message of salvation to all the world. In the midst of this, we grow closer in our walk with him.
We learn about this helpless babe whose mother and earthly father were trusted to raise. Can you imagine rearing your own salvation? We see him teaching, healing beside the Sea of Galilee. Here is your God, people, hanging on a cross, dying in your place. He walked in your shoes and made the ultimate sacrifice to show his love for our sick world, for us and the rest of this sick world.
Isaiah says, "He tends his flock like a shepherd, he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. He gently leads those that have young." This is our God, always caring for our broken world.
Jesus came into this world to identify with our suffering. The manger in Bethlehem is as important to us as the cross of Calvary, for if he was not God, he could not save this world that had turned it back on him. What ever your need is, look to the manger. Here is your God.
The season is about peace, a commodity that is short supply in our world. We're not talking about the absence of war and conflict, but rather, the calming inner certainty that all is well.
This peace is born out of a relationship between the creator and the created, and has its foundation in a faithful allegiance to Jesus. A relationship that tiny baby was born to provide.
Merry Christmas. Love him and your fellow man always.
God Bless You.
Charles Placker is a licensed minister who writes for the Victoria Advocate.