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The Nativity of Our Lord – Christmas Day

Text: John 1:1-18

Title: “The Word Made Flesh”

Date: Monday, December 25, 2017

Pastor Steve Bocklage

One of the most popular Christmas songs of all time has nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus. The song is “White Christmas,” written by Irving Berlin in 1942 during WWII. He wrote it for a musical titled “Holiday Inn.” As you may know, “White Christmas” was recorded by Bing Crosby and became an instant hit with the troops overseas. It turned-on all the nostalgia buttons that make us feel good at times of trouble. Nostalgia buttons like Grandma’s apple pie and Mom’s homemade cookies. But “White Christmas” does not have a hint of Jesus. In fact, Irving Berlin deliberately set out to write a Christmas song that had nothing to do with Christ. With a life filled with tragedy, Irving Berlin actually hated Christmas.  So he intentionally wrote “White Christmas” as a Christmas song for the secular world.

         Sadly, if you take Christ out of Christmas, there really isn’t much left to celebrate, is it? Our culture seems to have discovered this for itself. When you leave out the Child born of a virgin in Bethlehem…there really isn’t much to celebrate. Without Christ, there is no point to Christmas. Without Christ, Christmas means absolutely nothing. Yet, this one little sentence: “And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” (v. 14a) is why Christians from the 3rd century on made this day a holy day, even as their culture partied its way through it. The followers of Christ celebrated the glorious fact that on a magnificent night in Bethlehem when the fullness of time came, God delivered on His promise to save the world through His Son. (cf. Gal 4:4-5)
         It taxes our brain to think about “the Word became Flesh” and made His dwelling among us. This is bigger than E=MC2 that rocked the scientific world when Albert Einstein conceived it. From that time on, matter and energy were never looked at the same way again. Likewise, when “The Word became Flesh,” it meant that we could never look at God and humanity the same way again. God became man in Christ. The Creator became the creature. The Infinite dwells in the finite. Jesus the Christ is simultaneously 100% God and 100% man.
         Here again, Christianity stands alone and parts ways with all other religions. All other religions have man reaching up to its god. Some religions even have man becoming a god. But the Christmas Gospel declares the opposite…God became man. “The Word became Flesh” and in the flesh, God dwells among us full of grace and truth. Humanity is honored by God because God tabernacles here. He dwells among us in the flesh. Christ is sinless humanity who forgives you and me and who commands us to forgive one another. He is the image of the invisible God, and He restores the image of God to fallen humanity. This little Child…sleeping in a manger…cooing in His Virgin mother’s lap and being nursed by her…is perfected humanity who came to save sinful humanity.

         This Good News of Christmas goes so much deeper than holiday sentiments. The Good News of Christmas is wonderfully spoken by Linus in Charles M. Schulz’s animated TV special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Having been exposed to the commercialism of Christmas over and over again, Charlie Brown finally shouts out, “Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?” “Sure, Charlie Brown,” says Linus, “I can tell you what Christmas is all about.” Linus confidently says, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.’” (Lk 2:8-14) Then Linus says, “That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.”

         The babe born in Bethlehem is your Lord, your Redeemer, and your Reconciler. Trust Him. Trust this humble little Child. Trust Him with all your heart and soul and strength. He is your Life, your Light, and your Salvation. And just because you cannot see Him…still believe and trust that Christ dwells among us now. Our Lord has not stopped dwelling among us. Every Sunday and every time we gather to hear the Word of God…“The Word made Flesh” full of grace and truth…and to eat and drink His true Body and Blood…He makes known to you and me that He is dwelling among us.
         “The Word made Flesh” dwells among us full of mercy and full of undeserved love and kindness toward sinners. So do not be afraid to come to Him. Do not think you need to be pure before you stand before Him. And by all means do not think you have to bargain your way into His favor. This Bethlehem-born Child came to save you. He has the name “Jesus” because “He is the One who will save His people from their sins.”        

“The Word made Flesh” dwells among us full of truth…the truth of your sin and the truth of your forgiveness. He is the Truth of God in human flesh. He is the only Way to the Father in heaven. He is the only Life the world has or needs. And to those who receive Christ through Holy Spirit given faith…to those who believe on His Name and trust in His work of salvation…God gives permission for us to be called “children of God.” (v 12)
         “The Word made Flesh” dwells among us and was born in Bethlehem and laid in a manger, so that you might be reborn in Him through Holy Baptism. He was “conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary” so that you might be born of water and the Spirit of God…with God as your Father, and His Son Jesus as your Redeemer and Brother, and the Holy Spirit as your Helper and Comforter. Jesus was born so that you might receive His sacrificial body and blood as your food and drink to keep you strong and steadfast in faith until your death. The God-man Jesus the Christthe Anointed One…was born to die, so that in His death you might die to sin and live forever in Him.
         Yes, without question, the culture in our society has had one big Irving Berlin moment…where Christmas means absolutely nothing without Christ in it. When the Christ child was born in Bethlehem, He dwelt or tabernacled in the manger. And now…the Son of God dwells or tabernacles in the Word of God…in the waters of Holy Baptism…and in, with, and under the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. “The Word made Flesh” is the essence of Christmas and you receive all that He died to win for you…“grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:18b) This is the Christmas you have when you have Christ. Amen.

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