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"We Beheld His Glory"

John 1:1-5,14

Rev. Alan Taylor

The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord
St. John Lutheran Church  
Galveston, Texas

Sat, Dec 24, 2011 

+ In Nomine Jesu +

Bing Crosby dreamt of a "White Christmas."  And because the weather outside was so frightful, Frank Sinatra sang "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."  For those too young to have heard those men sing, there is a modern rendition of Sinatra's classic that muses about a little puppy who likes to explore the backyard in the dead of winter.  The song is titled "yellow snow, yellow snow, yellow snow."  Though some dream of a "White Christmas," here in the south, we generally just wish for cold weather around this time of year, because, if it doesn't get cold "it just doesn't feel like Christmas."

For some, Christmas is about reconciling differences and putting animosity to rest.  It's about helping those who are disadvantaged and less fortunate.  It's about peace, and goodwill and giving.  Still, for others, Christmas is one of the two times of the year that they make their bi-annual pilgrimage to Church, the other being Easter.  I suppose such a twice a year rationale fits well with our culture's errant belief that you can be a spiritual person these days without being religious.  While that may be true, Christ, who reconciled us to Himself, has called us to be His body, the Church.

While some make it a point to go to church at Christmas, many churches don't actually have services on Christmas Day.  Some churches have even adopted a tradition of cancelling Sunday services when Christmas Day happens to fall on a Sunday, as it does this year.  Christmas, they say, is family time.  We don't want to disrupt everyone's celebration of Jesus' birth by making them feel guilty if they don't go church. 

I wonder if our Christmas preparations and celebrations have become so embroiled in tradition and custom that Jesus' birth no longer leaves us amazed and awestruck, bowing, as it were, in devotion and service before the God who loved us enough to take on human flesh in order to save us from ourselves.

As we gather here this evening in the glow of candlelight and sweet song, we can put away, if but for a time, our sorrows and sufferings, our doubts and fears, even our guilt and our inner turmoil.  And, if that is true, if we can put those things aside tonight, it is only because God came to us some 2,000 years ago, the child of Mary, to bear our grief's and woes and to take our sins upon Himself that He might die our death and give us new life in Him.

A little girl asked her father, "dad, did you know that Jesus is God?" "Oh, that's not right little one," he said, "Jesus is God's Son!" How conventiently we dismiss the Divine and thus miss what God has done for us in Christ.  My friends, make no mistake, at Christmas God took on human flesh to save you from who you are and from what you became in Adam's Fall. 

In speaking of the Incarnation of Jesus the Apostle John wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has (never been able to put it out.)" "And 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."

"Dad," the little girl said, "did you know that Jesus is God!" Out of the mouth of babes God has ordained praise.  He takes on human flesh to bear our sins and to take them with Him to the cross.  He destroys death and the grave and gives life those living in the shadow of darkness.  This Child of our hopes and dreams is truly God and thus it is truly God who gives His life and dies for us, who dies for you.

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian, fear, for sinners here

The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,

the cross be born for me for you;

Hail, hail the Word made flesh,

the babe, the Son of Mary." 

What can we do but stand in awe and marvel at the wondrous gift that we have been given this night?  In Jesus' name.  Amen. 

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting.  Amen.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

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