“MADE FLESH AND DWELLS AMONG US”
Saint John 1. 1-14
The Feast of The NATIVITY OF OUR LORD: 25 December Anno Domini 2012
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost
“In the beginning!” A perfect way to start a story—our story—your story—“The” Christmas Story! All true! All, so wonderful, it’s hard to believe. Yet you DO believe…but not by your own efforts, intellect or choice. You believe because you have been called through the Gospel by God the Holy Ghost.
“In the beginning!” “In the beginning God created the heaven and earth…the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters…and God said let there be light…And god said ‘Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness’…male and female…created He them…And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” [Gen. 1 assorted vv]
Not only very good, but perfect.
Then came the “fall” of man. Adam’s fall. Your fall. The sins of the father inherited by the sons. The seed of the forbidden fruit not falling far from the tree.
Every thing ruined. It was like having your new house or car, or church, viciously vandalized. It was like having the garden you’ve worked with all spring and early summer wiped out n a hail storm. It was like have the world’s greatest art masterpiece “graffiti-ed over” in black spray paint. It was like having your dear little child disfigured by acid. Well, yes, . . . AND, it was like having everything that was made true, good, and beautiful (in the “image and likeness of God”) turning false, ugly, and bad. Now, Adam, and you, would grow old, loose loved ones, make sinful mistakes, and chose to trespass daily. Now, Adam, and you, would suffer heartache, grow feeble with disease and pain, and then die and rot away.
“Awww, pastor…this Christmas Day…do you have to talk about dying and decaying and children disfigured?”
Yes, yes I do. But now I’m done with that. I’m done because God is done with that—“it is finished!” Because God did not let the devil, or your sinful natures have the last word. Christmas is about a present GIVEN (“for you”) and a about a present send and received (“Immanuel” “for you”).
The Holy Trinity sent The WORD to save you—from yourselves! The Father sent His Son first in the PROMISE of the WORD…almost from the very beginning: “and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed, It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heal.” [Gen. 3.15]
There you have it…the Evangel, the favor of God on His still beloved children, RIGHT AFTER the “fall.” There was your Lord telling the cur, the cur-sed serpent that The Christ-Child would come to crush his slimy evil head…BUT, by having His own Sacred Head wounded; by having His own precious heal bruised.
And oh how it was bruised—pierced through with cruel nails.
The Babe of Bethlehem did not come to be cute and cuddly. He did not have Himself born on a frosty, snow-covered evening so that Hallmark Cards, evergreen tree farms, and Time-Life Records could market and sell moods, festive spirits, memories or nostalgia. He came to do battle with Sin, Death, and the Devil. He came to obey and die. Now, that is not very “chrissmissy” is it? No, maybe not as area merchants, chambers of commerce, or even some of your relatives and friends have come to be misguided; but it is all about CHRIST. Christ was anointed to be the Paschal Lamb of Sacrifice! We are called Christ-ians and this Mass is called the Christ Mass!
The reason that the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord (25 December) was not observed during the first couple of centuries of the New Testament Church’s existence (as we would now know it) was not because those first century believers doubted or denigrated the Incarnation, NO! Rather, they correctly viewed Luke 2 as the pre-cursor, the “set up,” the initial thrust of God in the Flesh into our world of sin and sorrow, which came to its’ climactic victorious crescendo on the Cross of Good Friday and in the Empty Tomb of Easter morn! They knew Christ had come and they knew WHY Christ had come. For them, every Sunday, which was a mini-celebration of Easter, was ALSO a celebration of the Incarnated One. They like you understood the “EN-FLESHMENT” of God. This gift, which you today receive with the mouth and tongue, would later become calendarized as Christmas—“THE” service where the Body and Blood of Jesus…the real Jesus…the Jesus that was born in that stable…the Jesus that hung bloody and bruised on Calvary…was REALLY given to them, Sacramentally, to be food and drink for the forgiveness of sins. The Light and Life is feasted on in the Mass—Christ is The Supper.
From the time of His Holy, Sprit-wrought Conception, and His birth from the Blessed Virgin, the Christ Child has been about His SAVING WORK. It has all been about His Flesh and His Blood, and His Word which brings Him to you! There has been blood along the way; and suffering. His Circumcision on the 8th day after His Nativity—even then God allowing His precious Flesh to be cut, His Holy Blood to be shed. The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, those infant boys under the age of two, slaughtered by Herod. The Bethlehem stable is all part & parcel of the Golgotha hilltop. The wood of the manger…the wood of the cross. Was He only laid in a feeding trough because there was no basinet, or, was it not because He would later tell His Disciples: “I AM the living bread which came down from heaven…for My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed…” [Jn. 6. 51a, 55] He Who was wrapped in “swaddling” clothes would later be wrapped in a burial shroud. He Who would soon be worshipped by Magi bearing myrrh…would later have myrrh brought by the faithful Magdalene to the tomb on Sunday at dawn for burial anointment.
Christmas is the Christ Mass. This Mass is the Flesh and Blood of God bringing forgiveness, salvation, and life eternal to His hitherto enslaved people. You ARE rescued dear brothers and sisters; you are “Captive Israel” no more - - the ransom has been paid. He gives you Peace, this Prince from Heaven! He is about so much more than mere earthly peace between you and your spouse or children (although that will come in a family which receives Him). He is about so much more than peace between you and your brethren. He is your Peace and He is your Brother Who puts you back into the arms of a loving Father. The Favor/Grace announced by the Angel to the Blessed Virgin; the Peace proclaimed by the Heavenly Sabaoth in the Judean fields to the shepherds; the Peace of the Risen Christ which comforted the Disciples on Easter eve; IS the Peace that I now Gospel into your ears; and will soon Gospel onto your tongues—the Pax Christi…in The Flesh. Your sinful fallen flesh is transformed and glorified by His Holy Flesh...from Bethlehem, to Calvary, to the Right Hand of Majesty, to Shawnee, to Augsburg’s Altar, to you—FOR YOU!
That is why this IS a happy morn!
“IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD…AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US, AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY, THE GLORY AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH.”
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost