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Christmas--The Beginning

St. John 1.1-14

Rev. Keith R. Weise

Christmas Day, series B
Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 Well, the presents are all opened.  The special meals have all been eaten.  And the family gatherings are soon coming to an end.  (At our house anyway.) By the end of the day, what's true of my family will be true of most families who celebrate Christmas.  It will all be over.  Or will it?  In truth, Christmas isn't over after today.  In fact, it's just begun.  Officially, Christmas starts today and lasts all the way until January 6, when we celebrate Epiphany and mark the arrival of the Wise Men at the home of the Lord in Bethlehem.

2 Christmas lasts a full twelve days.  Day after day of celebration and rejoicing follow one upon the other.  Why such a long period of jubilation?  Because of the greatness of the miracle which we celebrate.  God the Son has taken on flesh from the Blessed Virgin.  God himself has come down to us and revealed himself as the Babe of Bethlehem.  The Eternal Word of God has wrapped himself in human flesh to save his people from their sins.  St. John speaks of Christ's Incarnation and birth this way.  He says:

[St. John 1.14]

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

3 Christmas is worthy of twelve full days of devotion, because it is the festival of Divine Grace revealed in the flesh.  Christmas is the high feast of Divine Truth, manifested in a human being.  Christmas is the great celebration of the Word who is God garbing himself in complete humanity and coming to his own.  And today marks the beginning of the celebration, not the end.

4 Because Christ's birth marked a beginning as well.  St. John says of Christ:

[St. John 1.4-5]

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, the true heavenly light which lighteth every man began to shine upon the people of the earth.  When Christ was born, true life began its revelation to the world.  When Christ was born, grace and truth began their march into the souls of all mankind.  When Christ was born, the end of the darkness of death had finally, finally begun.

5 So today is not an end.  It's a beginning, for Christmas is the beginning of our redemption and salvation by Almighty God.  The Baby Jesus who sleeps in the manger has begun to live the perfect life that has eluded humanity since our fall into sin.  The Baby Jesus who rests in the arms of St. Mary, his blessed mother, has, by his first breath, begun to crush the head of the devil who has plagued mankind since he began his demonic rebellion against our God.  The Baby Jesus who rests in a stable in the City of David has begun his reign as the everlasting King promised to David long ago by God, himself.  The Baby Jesus who cries and coos and clings to his mother has begun his mission to carry the sins of the world to the cross of Calvary, and restore us to blessedness and everlasting life with our God.  And it all began on Christmas, when the Baby Jesus, our God in the Flesh was born of Mary, the Blessed Virgin.

6 As this Christmas day begins, Christ our Lord calls on us to make a new beginning in our life.  Today Christ calls on us to receive him anew and to put away all that is ungodly and unholy and impious in our lives and make a new beginning grounded in faith.  As he has now begun our salvation, Christ calls on us to make a new beginning in life that unabashedly confesses belief in his holy name, and faithfully receives and welcomes him as our Lord and our God.  St. John says:

[St. John 1.12-13]

. . . as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

7 Just as Christmas is the beginning of Christ's saving work for us all, it is also a beginning for each of us.  Christmas is the beginning of our lives as sons and daughters of God.  Christmas is the beginning of our life as those born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  Christmas is the beginning of grace for us all, for in Christ's birth God has granted the fullness of divine grace to each and every one of us.  St. John says:

[St. John 1.16]

And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

8 Christmas has just begun.  Our lives in Christ have just begun.  And through the great miracle of Christ's birth, what God has begun in us, he himself will bring to completion.  St. Paul tell us that:

[Philippians 1.6b]

. . . he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

So we celebrate all twelve days of Christmas.  We celebrate Christ's birth every day of our lives.  And today, Christmas day, we especially celebrate the good work of our salvation begun by God this very day, and we look forward in hope until the day of its completion, when we shall stand with St. John, and behold Christ's glory with our own eyes, and live in that glory under the fullness of Christ's grace and truth for time that has no end.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.



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