Christmas Day -- On A Dark Night
December 24, 2017 Pastor: Rev. George Fyler
Verse: John 1:1–1:14
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (John 1:9)
In the name of the Father and of + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Dear Beloved of the LORD:
On a dark night, the eternal God, whom the heavens cannot contain, pierces our darkness and comes as a fully human baby. The Holy One descends from His throne of splendor and arrives at a well-worn, wooden feeding trough for His bed.
On a dark night, the One too holy to touch comes among us. He comes not only to be touched, but to be born here below that we might be reborn from above. He comes to be defiled, bloodied and die by the hand of man, so we may be made holy and live by the hand of God.
On a dark night, the Exalted One is brought low, that He might raise us to unknown heights. We have been brought low by sin and the grief of death. Because of that dark night long ago, we who are enslaved from of old — old as the Fall into sin — are freed by the Holy One, creator of the life-giving Light.
Because of that dark night long ago, the devil is defeated, and the demonic minions cower in fear. Jesus Christ’s coming destroys the power of death and bursts open the gates of paradise. For Jesus, comes to unshackle us from our iniquity and to shine on us the Light of Truth which the darkness cannot overcome. Now every bright day and every dark night of yours is enlightened by the God-Man who brings you back to your Maker,
Because of that dark night, we God’s fallen creatures, sing with the angels. For Jesus, the Messiah, comes to be born in the flesh. Had Christ not been born in the flesh, he would not have been baptized for us. Had Christ not been born in the flesh, he would not have died for us on the splintered wood of the tree. Had Christ not been born in the flesh, He would not have sent down the Spirit to regenerate our sin-filled corpses by breathing into us the breath of eternal life. Had Christ not been born in the flesh, we would be forever trapped in the gloom of sin and the darkness of death.
REJOICE & GIVE THANKS, Jesus Messiah is born in the flesh. God becomes a creature to save His creatures, to restore His children, to give us — who are dead in our trespasses and sins — life anew, life everlasting. The One who grants you His riches becomes poor, taking into Himself the poverty of your sinful flesh, that you may put on the richness of His divinity.
The Word in the flesh and living among us, makes Christmas — not a fable of heaven but a real event of earth. God is born! God is a human baby sleeping in a stable. Animals bleat; dust fills the air; musty, earthy smells rise as the sweetest incense joining angelic Alleluiah’s to the Father on high. The animals around the infant God are just as at home as the angelic armies. Because of that dark night, rulers’ thrones are in fast retreat, while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains sing for the first time since their creation.
Why so? Because, the Word, Christ Jesus our Lord, being God, equal to the Father in His divinity, sets aside the full use of His godly glory. He clothes Himself in our humanity. The One who is equal to the Father in His divinity is inferior to the Father in His humanity. It is not earth that climbs to heaven, but the heavenly One who comes to earth.
O great mystery beyond all telling! Why would the God of the universe do this? Love; His love alone caused His incarnation. Love brings Him down to you: love deeper than the depths of sea, broader than the expanse of time. This is why the Church says, Christ is born, Christ is risen — we confess a continuous present meaning not subject to the will of man. Greater and deeper than all earthly love is His love for you. In His love, He sets aside — not only godly power, but His life itself —to give life to you, His beloved.
That is why Jesus comes to pierce the darkness of night. He comes with compassion, even on those who kill Him. He has mercy, even on those who hate Him. He has love, even for those who refuse to hear the words of the Word made flesh. Yes, Jesus comes. For He sees what we once were before the Fall into sin: made pure and alive in His image, formed in His likeness.
Yet, the Christ also sees what you are without Him: children of wrath, torn asunder from God, without love for Him, without true life, languishing in the darkness of sin. Jesus sees fear strangling your hearts, helpless in the face of your fallen-ness, vanquished by sin, enslaved by the devil, wanting what is wicked, and despising what is good.
So, He comes into this world for you. Yet, Jesus’ coming into this world will not be without cost, without the spilling of His blood. It will cost this Child His life. Jesus will endure the world rejecting Him, the devil tempting Him, and His closest followers forsaking Him. Even more, God the Father knows that He must forsake His One-and-Only — as His newborn Son, Jesus already bears the full brunt of the wrath that you and I rightly deserve.
God the Son becomes flesh and lives among us, full of grace and truth. And it is His human nature that connects you to God the Father’s divine nature.
That’s why you are here. For Christ through the Holy Spirit has connected you to God the Father. You can hear the Christmas story at home. But to those who have received Him, Christmas is no mere story, words to be heard estranged from the body of Christ. And so, you are here to drink deeply of Christ this ChristMass.
The eternal Word has indeed taken into Himself your human nature in the Virgin’s womb. He then suffers in His crucifixion, giving you what you could never earn: forgiveness and eternal life. He raises you in His resurrection, and lifts you to heaven in His ascension. This is only so because He was born as a baby for you. For in Him is life, and the Life is the Light of all people.
That life is in His flesh. Soon, you will take of that life when you take of His flesh in His Supper. For His flesh is food, indeed; and His blood is drink, indeed. This is so because the Word becomes flesh and lives among you that you may not die but live. At His altar here, He brings you into a wonderful, mysterious union with God, the God who made the world, who made you, and restores to you the gifts He planned for you from the foundations of the world.
Oh, the miracle of Christmas! God becomes man and is born of the Blessed Virgin. Still, God has another miracle for you. Jesus is also born in you when the Spirit gives you new birth. It is a new birth, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”[Titus 3:5] In Holy Baptism, God the Holy Spirit makes you a child of God, one of those believing in His name.
You, O saint of God, are reborn — not from blood, nor from a desire of the flesh, nor from the desire of a man — but from God. O saint of God: because Jesus shares your human nature; you now share in His divine nature. Through faith, you have all that Christ has won for you — lived now by faith, to be fully experienced in eternity.
REJOICE & GIVE THANKS! For Jesus sends away your sadness. Jesus has taken away the sting of death — even though you die — and brings to you the bright promise of eternal life. Jesus, who is the destroyer of sin and death, has come to set you free. Jesus gives Himself to you that you might then give yourself to Him, that you would be whole, be again as God meant you to be: free, clean, and overflowing with godly praise — zealous for good works and service to your neighbor. Jesus has redeemed you. He has rescued you from the devil’s grip and the darkness of death.
And although you still weep in this fallen creation, you do not mourn as those who have no hope. Yes, we all weep in this valley of tears, because we live in a sin-wrecked and fallen world. But we have hope. For you and I know Him who is the Truth and Life.
Indeed, this day is not only for the shepherds in a field long ago, or animals in a stable. It’s no fictitious story or fable. On this day, the true Light is present for you. For the Son of God came and lived in our darkness. And now every day and every night of yours is enlightened by the God-Man who brings you back to your Maker.
Yes, the Word became flesh and lived among us. And we gazed upon His glory, the glory of the One-and-Only from the Father, full of grace and truth. AMEN
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
S. D. G.