Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Day (C) 2012

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Luke 2:7
Theme: A Breach Birth

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

God is not abstract in His power or being. Christmas is evidence of this fact. Everything has a context. Nothing exists in a vacuum. The love of God can only be understood in the humanity of Jesus. A small Judean town was the backdrop for the most significant birth announcement in the history of the world. “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.”1 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…”2

Jesus’ birth was a breach. It was a breach of unprecedented magnitude. Through the womb of a humble virgin the architect of the universe breached the barrier between a holy God and sinful humanity. He traversed the boundary of the created sphere not with His omniscience but in human flesh and blood. He came not on a mission of reconnaissance but to set up tenancy. He came not to visit but to dwell. He came not to inspect His creation but to reclaim it, redeem it, and restore it. He came to hang from a cross.

Human logic deems it to be inconceivable. It doesn’t seem possible. How can this one man be the Redeemer of the world? How can your eternal future be secured by the birth, death, and resurrection of one human being! Yes, there is a long succession of miracles: A virgin birth, healing the blind, lame, deaf and mute, calming the seas, walking on their surface, commanding demons; capped by His own bodily resurrection from the dead. Still, the Holy Spirit must teach us that the one Man, this infant of Bethlehem died for me and my salvation. Only faith can enter here. In baptism faith is conceived in the human heart in a manner parallel to Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb. The Holy Spirit is the father of such mysteries.

It can be debated whether our modern celebrations of Christmas are a help or a hindrance to our spiritual well-being. Easily lost is the confronting truth that Christ came because we are sinners- and that to such an extent that we merit condemnation to hell. We are called to honest reflection. What dominates our Christmas agenda? Is it mainly about family, taking time out, or indulging? Are we more likely to counting our blessings or just pause from the mundaneness of our daily regime?

The devil doesn’t take holidays. When we get up in the morning Satan tempts us to prioritize the day based on selfishness. Who or what do we fear? What challenges do we face? What tensions do we hope to avoid? Are we driven by pride? Or greed? Or guilt? Do we turn the things we’d like to have into the things we believe we need or deserve? What is the end purpose of our day? Our week? Our year? Does the birth of the Prince of Peace change that? Does the imminence of His return in glory ever prick our conscience or even cross our minds?

The nativity story should be gripping because it speaks to that which makes us essentially human. The soft touch of a newborn’s skin, the vulnerability of its tiny frame evokes the fiercest desire in the human instinct to safeguard that which is precious and fragile. A parent’s love for a newborn is surely one of the purest that exists among humans. And such is the appeal for a holy child born in a cattle stall. The circumstances of Christ’s birth are worse than ordinary, they are nearly tragic, unbecoming of a future King. Yet the ChristChild is no victim of His circumstances. Rather, the context is determined by the Divine will. So profound is the love of God that He deemed it necessary to condescend to us in such humility. Only in this way could our trust in Him be grounded in absolute confidence that He can truly relate to our condition.

He continues to dwell in and with humanity- the Creator with the created, the Immortal one with mortals. He comes, the bearer of light into darkness; the bringer of hope where there is doubt; the conveyer of peace where there is conflict. The tiny voice who cried as the animals rustled near His bed would one day call out as legions of darkness gathered near His cross. The bleat of God’s Lamb fell silent at the cross. The infant tears in a manger would swell to maturity as He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Yet His own tomb could not hold Him.

Christmas should always serve to recalibrate our perspective. We claw our way through life scraping together the world’s goods. We piece together some semblance of reputation and image. We tear and mend, and re-tear and re-mend our relationships. We steadfastly avoid ridicule, hurt and pain. We cloak our true motives with fashionable external activities. Our selfish and sinful sides are happy to receive Christmas as a distraction or opportunity for indulgence. Through it all we are prone to missing the truth that Christ didn’t come as a spiritual tonic or a therapist: He came to commiserate in His sacred role of substitution as only He could. He came to suffer.

Seldom is the nativity account seen as a call to understand suffering. That’s typically reserved for Lent. And yet the incarnation of God’s Son should both humble us and hearten us in our trials. Consider Luther’s words, “Think of it…the King of all creation in heaven and on earth, and of all creatures in them, lies there is such wretchedness…Why do I want to be so high and mighty that I never want to suffer anything? If the King of glory suffers as He does, for my sake, who do I think I am?” 3 Christ’s entrance into our human flesh is an entrance into our suffering.

The birth of Christ had context. Your life has a context. This is so spiritually and vocationally. You have and/or are a husband, wife, child, student, employer or employee. You have a sphere of influence among family and friends. You are a baptized child of God who learns at the Teacher’s feet and dines at the Master’s Table. You do these things in real time, among real people, in concrete settings. The truth of Christmas sanctifies even the most mundane activities we engage in.

Perhaps we’re so busy at this time of year trying to survive we don’t know what it means to thrive. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”4 Life in Christ is free, full, abundant, and bountiful. He is no miser. He is no Christmas Scrooge. So lavish and extravagant is the love the ChristChild embodies that the apostle exclaims, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!”5

The birth of Jesus Christ was a breach of Satan’s rule, sin’s power, hell’s terror and death’s supremacy. Today we celebrate; not alone, not only with families, but with all the faithful, living and departed, and the whole host of angelic beings. “Glory to God in the highest”6 Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

The Nativity of Our Lord
Christmas Day
25 December 2012
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Luke 2:11
2 Luke 2:14
3 House Postils
4 John 10:10
5 1 John 3:1
6 Luke 2:14

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