Saturday, December 5, 2015

Advent Midweek Sermon: "Creation and Christ's Incarnation"

+ Advent Midweek Service 1 +
December 2nd, 2015
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
The Creed and Christ’s Incarnation: The Creator Became a Creature
Genesis 2; Romans 5:12-17; John 1:1-14
First Article of the Creed and its explanation

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

What’s on your Christmas list? I know the kids are done with their lists longer than the IRS tax code. But really, don’t humble brag. We all have Christmas lists. What’s on yours? If it’s anything like my Amazon wish list, it’s probably too long and too full of books, gadgets, and other extraordinary gifts.

Yes, it’s the season of gift-giving, or so the commercials tell us: Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday. Everyone’s looking for extraordinary deals.

God calls us called to be good stewards in Advent even as the world calls us to buy more stuff we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. Of course, gift giving can be a good thing, so long as the gifts don’t distract us from God the giver of all things. Advent stands in stark contrast to the world around us, calling us to live in our Baptism and daily drown that little hoarder of an old Adam in each of us.

How different Luther’s list sounds in the Small Catechism from the endless commercials. Body. Soul. Eyes, ears, and all our members. Our reason and senses. Clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home. It all sounds rather simple, doesn’t it? Ordinary. And yet each thing – all we have for this body and life is gift. And yet our sinful flesh yawns like a three year old: boooring.

But here in the first article of the Creed we behold the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. God hides his extraordinary, abundant mercy in the ordinary earthly gifts of clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home. God takes the ordinary stuff of his creation and fills it with his extraordinary, extravagant, and endless love.

As St. John declares to us: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Christ the Creator became a creature to save you.

So, it’s ok – in fact, it’s God-pleasing - to have an ordinary Christmas. Reminds me of Tolkien’s words in the Hobbit: If all of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold the world would be a merrier place. But more important than that:

Christ the Creator became a creature to save you.
And he did this in the most ordinary way imaginable.

The same Word of God who spoke creation into existence with a simple “Let there be”, assumed our human nature that he might create life out of the void and darkness of our sin.

The same Lord who formed Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, that he would be flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone.

The same Lord who promised a child to be born of a woman becomes that very child who destroys the devil and sin and death for you.

God hides his extravagant, extraordinary, abounding forgiveness in the fragile flesh of an infant boy. He wraps his glory, power, steadfast love, and mercy in the humility and humanity of Jesus. He is true God and true Man, extraordinary and yet ordinary all at once.

So it is with God’s creation. Clothing and shoes. Meat and drink. House and home.

Luther lays out God’s gifts in creation like a never-ending Christmas list. Just as it was for Adam and Eve, everything we have is gift from God.

And yet, just like Adam and Eve we reject God’s gifts. We spurn his kindness. We think he’s holding out on us. Yes, Adam’s flesh still dwells in each of us this side of Eden. This Advent, we’re called to repent of taking God’s earthly provision for us for granted. Repent of our thanklessness. Repent of our turning God’s gifts into idols and worshipping the creature rather than the Creator. Repent of looking for assurance, confidence, and trust in the extraordinary works of man rather than in the ordinary gifts of God in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, his holy Word, and Holy Supper.

For these gifts are the way Jesus prepares us for his Advent. Repent and receive his promises, ordinary though they may seem; they are full of his extraordinary forgiveness.

And beware, the devil uses the same playbook on us that he did on Adam and Eve.
He lies, deceives, and plants seeds of doubt. “Did God really say he would provide for your bodily needs? Did God really say his Word and Baptism and Supper will forgive you? Your sins are too great for that. Did God really say his Word is all you need for your life and faith in his Church?” And on and on the devil’s wish his list goes.

But it’s all lies. Empty promises. And false hopes. Satan’s goal is to devour. Christ’s is to deliver you. Jesus is born to rescue you.

Even God has a Christmas list; and it’s a long list, full of countless names, written before the foundation of the world. All who believe and are baptized are on this list. Your names are written there. Each and every one of you are on his list – not because you were nice instead of naughty – quite the opposite in fact. Rather, you’re on the list because Christ the Creator became a creature to save you. For in Christ you are a new creation, created out of the flesh of Jesus your second Adam.

For you are the reason Jesus is born. You are the reason for Jesus’ Advent in human flesh, his Advent in glory, and his Advent now, as he comes to gives you extraordinary forgiveness by his body and blood hidden in ordinary bread and wine.

After all, at Christmas we give gifts; and there’s no bigger giver than the Father. He sends his Son to be born for you, to live for you, to overcome the devil for you, to be obedient to the Law for you, to bear the punishment of sin for you, to die for you, to rise for you, to give you everything he has.

God is the greatest spendthrift all. God spares no expense. God gave us His only begotten Son. And so the price and the gift are both paid and given to you by Jesus’ holy precious blood and his innocent suffering and death for you.

So that we would receive earthly gifts of clothing and shoes, Jesus was born with two feet like you, walked around Judea teaching and healing for you, and walked those same feet to the cross for you where he was pierced for you. To clothe you in his righteousness. To give you his life in exchange for your sin. How beautiful are those infant feet that bear good news, even as they wiggle in swaddling clothes.

So that we would be fed and nourished by meat and drink, Jesus fasted in the wilderness; Jesus overcame the devil’s temptation to disobey the Father; Jesus ate and drank with sinners; Jesus broke bread for thousands; and gave his own body and blood for us to eat and drink, that same body born of Mary is poured out for you here in a different manger, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of bread and wine.

So that you would have a house and home on earth and in heaven, Jesus was born in a feeding trough, lived in exile, had no place to rest his head save that of the virgin tomb; Jesus visited the homes of sinners announcing salvation to their homes and yet found no shelter from the storm of God’s wrath, all so that he would prepare a place for you in your true home in that great country that calls us further up and further in to his holiness, presence, and peace.

For all of this…for each of you. The Creator became a creature to save you and all creation.

For it is not under the tree, but hung upon it, that we see God’s most extraordinary gift of all…Jesus crucified for you.

A blessed Advent to you all.

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

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