Christmas Day – Series C – John 1:1-14
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”
Today, a great mystery is given to us, today, an unspeakable joy has come to us.
On this Christmas morning, we join our voices in prayer and praise, because God has been put into a box.
For here at Bethlehem, we find none other than the fullness of the infinite God, now wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
As Mary sets her child down in a feeding trough, the angels raise their voices, singing, Glory in the Highest, peace on earth, for God is found in a box.
As strange as it may sound, this is our true joy, it is our real and actual peace, it is our lasting comfort, it is, the real meaning of Christmas:
That God has put himself into the box of flesh and blood.
The infinite and unknowable God has made himself known by taking up arms and legs, eyes, ears, a beating heart and breathing lungs.
What was once hidden is now in Christ; revealed, it is public knowledge, it shines for every eye to see, and every ear to hear.
God has been put into a box, and for that we ought to rejoice.
And yet, there is in fact, a part of us that does not want to join the angelic choirs in their joyful song, there is a part of us that resists and bristles at the proclamation that God is found in the flesh. That Christ has come down. That salvation is to be found upon the earth.
Yes, there is part of us that is not only surprised by the Gospel of Christmas, but is in fact offended by it.
In our pride, in our sin, in our humanity, we resent the incarnation.
Although we may know the Christmas story, the Jesus story, like the back of our hand; as fallen human beings, we don’t naturally expect it, and more to the point, we would rather God remain outside of the box.
We would rather that God remain unknowable, unsearchable, without form, and without flesh and blood.
We would rather remain in the darkness, for at least there, we can search for God and his mercy on our own terms.
At least in the darkness we can find our own peace, comfort and joy.
At least here in the unknown, we can rest in the peace that God doesn’t really care about our sin.
We can take comfort in the idea that love is whatever we wish to make of it.
We can shout for joy, that God is outside of the box, and nothing can truly be known.
All of us, by nature, try to find peace, comfort and joy in what seems to be the warmth of the unknown.
After all, here in the darkness, nothing stands to accuse us, here in the darkness, doctrine, confession, and belief are all just subjective opinions.
Here in the darkness, we don’t have to deal with the uncomfortable light that shines, here in the darkness, we don’t have to be confronted with the God who has come to us on his own terms.
That’s what offends us, that’s what bothers us, that’s why the incarnation is something that sinful hearts resent.
For in our pride and in our sin, as we try to find peace, comfort and joy in the darkness, what we’re really doing is trying to climb to where we think God is.
We try to find comfort in the idea that with enough prayers, enough grief over our sin, enough effort to be genuine, loving and accepting Christians…that this will somehow finally bring us to where God is.
A ladder into heaven, a climbing into righteousness.
And yet it is God in His mercy, despite our resentment, our resistance and our sin, who has come down to us.
He leaves the heavens above and leaps down to the earth below, pulling with him every ladder, every effort, and every claim that his love is unknowable and unsearchable.
In mercy, Christ knocks you off the ladder, in mercy, he shines in the darkness, in mercy, he places himself in a box.
So that as we fall from our effort, from our ladders built by our own peace, comfort and joy, and from our attempts to find God where we think he is above…
We find ourselves falling from the sky and hitting the cold earth below,
Now scrambling to our feet, we hear again the songs of the angels, Glory in the highest, peace upon the earth.
Do not think that salvation is to be found up above.
In Christ, God has come to find you down here.
For behold in the Divine Service, not a Christianity that calls you to climb up to God, but rather a merciful and loving Father who comes down to you, granting you His peace, and keeping you in His rest.
This God in a box, is about service, about comfort, about find you down here.
In Christ, the hidden will of the infinite God has been raised up on a cross, revealing the mind of the Father and his mercy for you.
He binds himself to these gracious gifts, so that you might be sure of his love and mind toward you, His grace, forgiveness and identity.
In Christ, the promise of salvation is found secure, complete, finished, and fulfilled.
No matter what your feelings may cause you to think, no matter how much our despair might twist and turn our comfort.
It is finished, and the Lord of life comes to you here, always speaking, always comforting, always keeping.
In Christ, and in mercy, God has been put into a box for you, so that he might also be given to you now.
Here he comes, not in the unknown, not in the darkness, not in the hidden will of God, but in the public, real, tangible promise of His name, his life, his death, his resurrection, washed over you in Holy Baptism.
Bound to you in his Holy Supper.
And made alive in you through His Holy Word.
As tangible as is the body and blood that he has come to be joined with, so also is your redemption.
For this forgiveness is not unknown, it is not an idea, it is not a concept, it is not held together by opinions or generalities…it is his true body, truly given, truly held fast.
Rejoice, for in Christ, God is found in a box of flesh and blood,
Here, peace, comfort and joy is found not as an idea, not a mere feeling, not a passing a season, but rather, peace, comfort and joy is found with flesh and blood. It is knowable, tangible and given here for you.
For Peace is found with a body, in a savior dying on a cross, God who is love, who gives himself up for you. That you might be given all that he is.
Joy is found in a precise place, the Holy Supper of our Lord, where this joyful body and blood is given, and where Christ himself takes your place, and trades you his perfect righteousness and joy for your sin, your despair, and your failure.
Comfort is now found with a name. He is Emmanuel, God with us. And in the mercy of his incarnation, He remains here forevermore, given to you, always comforting, always keeping.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.