The First Sunday after Christmas – Series C – Service of Lessons and Carols
The Service of Lessons and Carols consists of nine readings and two meditations that follow both the Old Testament and New Testament readings. In these Scripture lessons, we follow the golden thread of the savior from creation, to the wandering of Israel, to the prophecy of the Messiah, to the birth and epiphany of the Savior. Here, we behold the Scriptural truth that all of God’s Holy Word proclaims Christ and him crucified for us.
First Meditation – Genesis 3:8-19; Genesis 22:15-18; Isaiah 9:2; 6-7; Isaiah 11:1-3a; 4a; 6-9
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
It was not in the dark of night, or the despair of shadows that man fell into sin.
Rather it was the cool of the garden, bursting forth with vegetation and life, in the middle of the day when the sun shone its brightest.
This was what set the stage for man’s cancerous decline into unrighteousness and separation from God.
Here in the brightness of day, surrounded by every good gift and grace of God, we find the source man’s greed:
His desire to have something more than what surrounds him, more than the world created for him, more than the loving Father who provides for every need of his body and soul.
And so even before the Fall, we see the darkened heart of man.
The heart that you and I have, the heart whose desires seem never to be satisfied, always searching, always looking, always grasping for something more, something better.
In the garden this desire is seen for exactly what it is…the desire to be like God…or perhaps more to the point, to be God.
It is in a corner, behind closed doors, seemingly out of the sight of God himself, that man is seduced by his own desires, his own greed, his own pride.
Here in private, man falls from being the pinnacle of creation, to now being the subject of God’s wrath.
Driven from the very presence of God in the garden, humanity now lives as a tribe of hope in a darkened and diseased world.
Creation no longer lives in harmony with created man, but rather in hostility, the cold takes life, the flood waters sweep away the nations, and heat of the sun scorches the earth. It is not paradise, it is not the garden, it is not home.
After desiring so much to be God, now our only desire is to be with God.
If we could only build a little higher, reach a little further, then we would return, return to the way things were…bright, full of life, at peace, reconciled, not knowing pain or death or disease…at home with the Lord.
Humanity is found in the shadows, performing sacrifices of lambs, sheep, goats and even first born children, still grasping and reaching and crawling and hoping that by this we might climb to where God is, awaiting that hope that God has promised.
That Word, that says to you and I, “I will return, I am coming to bring you home.”
Second Meditation – Luke 1:26-35; 38; Luke 2:1; 3-7; Luke 2:8-16; Matthew 2:1-12; John 1:1-14
It is in darkness and the silence of night that our God comes. The sun is gone and the cold of night has begun to settle in.
Night is a time of fear, as we aren’t sure whether we’ll make it through to the coming day.
Such was the setting for our Savior’s incarnation.
He comes in darkness, he is born in the middle of terror and despair…and yet he comes to bring us home.
He is the light that pierces the darkness…that out of the shadows might be born the source of life and light itself.
Where the Old Adam fell into corruption in private and behind closed doors in the hardness of his own heart, this New Adam breaks into a lost and condemned world with shouts of victory by heavenly choirs.
His birth does not happen in corner, his coming is not done in secret, instead kings, princes and even lowly shepherds know that he has come.
He is the public savior, the one who is seen by all, the one who is not hidden from view, but out in the open for all to see and hear.
As the Old Adam sought to be God, so the New Adam reveals that God’s plan of deliverance is found in God becoming man:
God himself taking on sin, disease, death and corruption. For he is the one to come, the one who takes us home.
And yet if we imagine that we’re somehow on this journey home, returning to the garden, then we’re dead wrong.
This Christ who is found in darkness and dirt, reveals that the way home is not found in reversing history, but rather through a new exodus.
The Christ who bears you home will travel a new path, one that leads through the wilderness being tempted by every trick and tactic of the devil,
That continues on through the mocking of the crowds and the jealousy of those meant to be shepherds of the church,
This road will bend and twist and drive through the judgment, verdicts and condemnation of rulers and authorities.
Finding it’s fulfillment at long last in a bloody, dirty and broken body.
Here is the way home: through the broken and poured body of the savior, through the baptism that ushers you into this journey, carried by Christ through these waters and found finally…at home.
In the Name of Jesus, Amen.