Friday, December 26, 2014

Sermon for Christmas Day: "Christmas Paradise"

+ The Nativity of our Lord, Christmas Day – December 25th, 2014 + 
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-14

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

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Genesis 1.

You thought I was going to say Christmas didn’t you. Well, for John, Christmas begins in Genesis. After all, the Gospel writers tells us the Christmas story each in their own way.

Matthew gives us Joseph’s perspective. There’s the wise men, wicked king Herod, the slaughter of the innocents, and the flight to Egypt. Matthew teaches us that the cross looms large over Christmas.

Luke gives us the dramatic, sublime Christmas pageant. And it came to pass in those days… Jesus’ birth is the greatest story of all; not only is it beautifully told, it is true.

John gives us the best of both worlds: Jesus’s birth and Genesis 1. Christmas and Paradise.

In the beginning…

God is there in the beginning, just as we confess in the Creed and Catechism: Uncreated. Infinite. Eternal. Almighty. The One who is, who was, and who is to come. He is without beginning and without end.

And yet John throws a little Christmas surprise our way.

In the beginning was the Word.

Who is the Word?

The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck then it must be a duck. Everything Genesis 1 says about God – that he is uncreated, infinite, eternal, almighty, without beginning or end - John says this is also true of Jesus. Jesus is the Word…and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Like a master workman, Proverbs says, God spoke creation into being through the Word. Or like Aslan in the Magician’s Nephew singing Narnia into existence. It all happened through the Word, through Jesus. So, Jesus was there when the heavens were stretched out like a tent and the sun was fixed as its lamp; he was there to smell the first noble fir and send the reindeer leaping across the field; and he was there rejoicing in creation. Behold it was very good.

But John’s Christmas story doesn’t stop at Genesis 1. Jesus is the Word in Genesis 1 and in John 1. John has yet another Christmas surprise…

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

The Uncreated became a creature. The Eternal punches a hole right into time and space. The Infinite Word takes on finite flesh. The Almighty is born of a humble Virgin. All for you.
Jesus, the Word of God in Genesis 1, comes for you in your human flesh in John 1 all because of Genesis 3.

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem has opened Paradise for you.

For the words “Very good” spoken over creation quickly turned to “very bad”. Blessing turned to curse. Death ended life. Paradise lost. The gates closed, guarded by an angel. Adam and Eve in exile among the thorns and thistles. And all creation covered in darkness.
With a single word, John describes our fallen world: darkness. Darkness without. And a heart of darkness within us. We’ve become lost and disoriented in the dark. We’ve filled the void and emptiness with the fear, love, and trust of creation, not the Creator. Repent. Cast off the works of darkness all you children of the day.

Arise. Shine. Your light has come. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
In Bethlehem, the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
Redemption dawns in the dim lit room where the Almighty God is born a helpless child. The Uncreated, Eternal, Infinite Word has organs, bones, and skin. His every heart beat exists to take your heart of darkness and replace it with a new one. O come, let us adore him…born the friend of sinners.

Today the ancient bond of condemnation in Adam is loosed. In Eden the devil deceived the woman, but now he sees a woman, a new Eve, become the mother of the Creator. And her Seed has come to crush the serpent’s head forever. Jesus leads you safely past the angel’s flaming sword. Heaven’s door is open through a stable. Bethlehem has opened Eden for you.
Your paradise lies in a manger. 

Join the animals who stand watch like the angels before their Maker. Join as heaven and nature sing the Gloria. While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy. Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. The Word became flesh and dwells among you. O come, let us adore him.

The Word who formed man from the dust has come with fingernails and eyebrows and kneecaps to reclaim his creation. In Jesus the darkness is banished. He has born the curse for you. Your sin is his. Your sorrows are his. Thorns and thistles adorn his head as he dies to set you free. O come, let us adore him.

The Word who made the forests and the mountains has come with arms outstretched on a wooden cross raised up on a hilltop. There the Creator of heaven and earth suffered and bled and died for his creation. The one in whom we live and move and have our being was wrapped in clothes and laid in a tomb. And on the third day he burst forth, the first bloom of a new creation. O come, let us adore him.

The Word who made the wheat and vine comes in bread and wine to you. The Word made flesh dwells among us, and for us. Here is your paradise in bread and wine. Taste and see that the Lord’s body and blood is good for you and your forgiveness. O come, let us adore him. Receive him. And rejoice.

Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem has opened Paradise for you.

A blessed Christmas to each of you…

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

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