25 December 2019†††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††† ††††††††††† ††††††††††† St. Athanasius Lutheran Church

Christmas Day††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Vienna, VA

 

Jesu Juva

 

ďThe Word Is EverythingĒ

Text: John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-6; Isaiah 52:7-10

 

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

In the beginning was the Word. In the end will be the Word. And in between is the Word. For the Word is God. The eternal God who is without beginning and without ending. The almighty God through whom all things are made, exist, and are upheld by the word of his power. The living God who gives life to all things. If He did not, they would not be. We would not be.

 

And today we remember, celebrate, and rejoice that this God, this Word, became flesh. Our flesh. The God of all entered our world, our story, as one of us. Because if He didnít, life would have no meaning, no purpose. We would have no hope. The sin which consumes us here would consume us forever.

 

But our loving Father would not have that. His Word tells us so. His Word that is spoken to us, yes, but also His Word made flesh - the baby lying in the manger. They say that actions speak louder than words. That a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, look at the action of God in the manger. Look at that picture. And hear God saying to you how much He loves you. Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but all those ways pale in comparison to this one. That in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. And the message is loud and clear: the Lord has bared his holy arm. That is, He has rolled up His sleeves to fight for us. To fight sin, to fight death, to fight the devil. To fight these enemies that are too powerful for us. And win.

 

Now usually, we donít think of winning and losing at Christmas. Or if we do, itís about who gets the best gifts! Well, the winner is you. For as we heard last night, unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Today, you have received the greatest gift of all: the Son of God. This gift that makes men and angels sing, shepherds and wise men worship, and demons rage.

 

Oh, you didnít think it was going to be all good news, did you? John told us today that there are those who do not receive Jesus, do not welcome Him, want nothing to do with Him. Perhaps they simply ignore Him, think Him irrelevant, or find Him annoying. But not the demons. They rage. For them, Christmas is D-Day - the day the enemy has invaded their territory. And they are not going to stand idly by. Theyíre going to get the big guns out against Him. But they will fail. He will do what He came to do. Not only be born for you, but shed His blood for you, making purification for the sin of the world on the cross. All your sin included. That you receive the gift not only of Him, but of His forgiveness. That you be a child of God.

 

Which is good, right? Except as a child of God, the devilís guns are now pointed at you. And this time of year, the weapon he often uses with great effect is disappointment. Disappointment with how Christmas has turned out. Disappointment with how this year has turned out. Disappointment with how your life has turned out. Just look at all those other people and how happy they are. God must not love you as much as you think. You must be a disappointment to Him. You must not really be a child of God after all. And how easily disappointment can turn into despair and hopelessness.

 

Thatís one of the reasons why Christmas is so important. That you see again how much God does love you! That you see again the action of God in the manger for you. That you look again at that picture of His love for you. That you hear the song of the angels again, and hear the testimony of John - that the Word was made flesh. Your flesh. Because your Father is not disappointed in you. The Son of God really becomes a child of man so that you can really be a child of God. He descends to you so that you will ascend to Him and dwell with Him forever.

 

And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He dwelled. Lived. Grew. Learned. Just like us, only without sin. But He dwelled with us. Jesusí incarnation wasnít like going to the dentist - get it over with as fast as you can! - He dwelled with us. He wanted to be here. And with those the world would consider disappointments and burdens - the sick, the weak, the outcast, the sinner, the low and despised. He wanted to be with them. To save. The devil uses that as proof that Heís not much of a God if thatís who He hanging out with. But in reality, itís proof that He is a greater God than we could imagine. A God not just for the high and mighty, the rich and popular, the easy-to-like-and-love - but for you and me and all people.

 

And this doesnít demean Him - this is His glory. This is the glory John and the others saw. A glorious God who doesnít glory in His glory! But who comes to the least and the lowest to serve. To bare His holy arm and get to work. He comes full of grace and truth - His gifts. For you.

 

And this Word that became flesh and dwelt among us is dwelling among us still. No longer wrapped in swaddling clothes, but in things just as humble today - water, words, and bread and wine. To wash you, absolve you, and feed you. With Himself and His blood-bought forgiveness. That your sin separate you from Him and from others no more. That the darkness of death hold no fear for you who live in His light. And that the attacks of the evil ones fail. Their lies extinguished by His truth. Their sorrow overcome by the joy of His forgiveness and life. Their temptations foiled by His strength. The strength of the baby lying in the manger. The glorious strength of a God who is born as one of us.

 

So perhaps you have some sadness this Christmas. Maybe it isnít all joy and gladness for you this year. Maybe the troubles and struggles of life just wonít go away. That happens in this world and life. And Christmas canít make it go away. Or for at best, just a couple of days. But thatís been true of every Christmas, even the very first one. It wasnít easy. The good news is: thatís exactly what Christmas is for! An imperfect world and imperfect people. To receive the gift of Christ, and know that with Him, we need nothing else.

 

Weíll sing that in just a moment, actually:

 

The world may hold Her wealth and gold;

But Thou, my heart, keep Christ as thy true treasure.

To Him hold fast Until at last

A crown by thine and honor in full measure (LSB #372 v. 6).

 

In the beginning was the Word. And in the end will be the Word. And in between is the Word. For the Word is everything. Jesus is everything. The love of God in action for you. Which come to think of it, is a pretty good definition of Christmas: the love of God in action for you. Love that we receive, and love that we get to share. The love that Merry Christmases are all about.

 

In the Name of the Father, and of the (+) Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.