Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sermon for Christmas Day: "A Well-Wrapped Gift"

+ Christmas Day – December 25th, 2018 +
Series C: Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-14
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

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

Image result for the word became flesh

I admire anyone who can take wrapping paper, scissors, and a couple pieces of tape and turn it into a work of art. My gift-wrapping skills tend to look more like a toddler’s or perhaps a Picasso. 

But when the folds and lines are clean, the corners crisply pointed, and the ribbon on top forms a perfect tornado of color, well then, there’s something special about a well-wrapped gift. Even eager children approach it slowly, almost reverently. With gentleness, they peel back one piece of tape, a corner here, a seem there; taking their time to unwrap the gift.  

In this we see a picture of God’s well-wrapped gifts to us, many of which take a life-time to unwrap. We see it in God’s gift of marriage and family. Month after month, year after year, anniversary after anniversary, husband and wife unwrap God’s gift of life together in their union. And a relationship that began as high school sweethearts, a blind date, or college friends, turns into more gifts: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. From an infant’s quivering chin to the first time they open their eyes. As they grow from infant to toddler, into preschool, elementary, teens, and young adults, God’s precious gift of life is unwrapped.

I imagine Mary had many of those same thoughts as she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger. As she treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. As she held in her arms God’s love wrapped in human flesh.

That’s what Christmas is all about, after all. The unwrapping of the greatest Christmas gift of all. God sends us the well-wrapped gift of his only-begotten Son. He is, as Hebrews proclaims, the radiance of the glory of God yet wrapped in humility and bearing our humanity. He is the exact imprint of God’s nature – very God of very God - yet He is also true man, born of the substance of His mother in this age. True God. True man for you. The God who wrapped his glory in the burning bush, in the pillar of smoke and fire, and in the cloud of the tabernacle wraps himself in the temple of human flesh for you. The God who upholds the universe by the word of his power, squawks, squirms, and screams as an infant in Mary’s arms for you.

The Word became flesh because that’s what we are. Flesh. We hurt and we hurt others. We suffer and we cause suffering. We are sinned against and we sin against others. 

And yet, the birth of Jesus is big enough to cover all our sin and death. In his birth and death for us he wraps himself in our hurt, pain, sorrow, suffering, shame, guilt and death, that we might be wrapped in his arms forever.  

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That means, God knows what it is to breath. To hunger and eat. To thirst and drink. To grow fingernails and hair. His beautiful feet have walked in our shoes. He knows what it is to live. To work. To rest. To be rejected and betrayed. To weep. To suffer. To die. All this he has done for you. 

By becoming man, He also took on everything that being human entails. He took onto His shoulders our sickness, grief, and pain. He bears our anger, our selfishness, our pride. He takes responsibility for our hatred, our lust, our murder. Jesus became flesh to bear the sins of our flesh.

And the God who wrapped himself in our humanity still unwraps his gifts for us here. In the Word who became flesh, who dwells among us in the gifts of his body and blood. And who dwells among us in the neighbor whom we serve, as we unwrap God’s love for others.

At Bethlehem, Mary wrapped her Son in swaddling clothes. At Calvary, He was unwrapped for us – stripped by Roman soldiers and nailed to the cross. Yet by this unwrapping, He has wrapped each of you in His own robe of righteousness. And he presents you to His Father as a well-wrapped gift. 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
For… the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

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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