Isaiah 61: 10-62:3
Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18
“Word made Flesh”
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Note: The original title of this sermon was changed to “Word made Flesh”.
On this 9th day of Christmas, when it seems like the Christmas Spirit is waning as we prepare for the rest of the church calendar and school schedule and future holidays, there is still much to celebrate about. I for one was still celebrating Christmas yesterday as the Hileman family, my mom's side, came together for the Christmas season. We played games, ate plenty of different foods, and just hanged out. My Grandfather gave his usual dinner prayer/sermon. And we enjoyed our time as all forty some of us caught up with each other's lives while talking about Christmas. Yet as I go to the stores I notice that as the Christmas sale stuff is twiddling the Valentine stuff is already up. I think they are available too early; my mother would disagree by saying that is just over a month away; I would counter, that's the point, its over a month away. But then again, we shouldn't trust in the commercial business to keep with the holiday traditions.
What about music? You've heard me complain about this, but I've always find it odd when a Christian station plays Christmas music during the season of Advent, but go back to their non-Christmas music during the season of Christmas. I mean,
what gives, you call yourself a Christian Station; do you not know the Christmas Seasons or at least the basics of Christmas? There is a reason why there is a song called, “The Twelve days of Christmas,” and I know that you, the Christian Station, knows it exists because I remember you playing the Muppet version of the song just last week. You know, the version when Ms. Piggy sings, “Twelve golden rings... bu-dun-bum-bu.” At least there were a couple of channels that played Christmas music on the second and third day of Christmas, but by the fourth day even their Christmas Spirit started to fizzle out. But to be fair most Christian Stations are Baptist, or confused Baptist. If one can't believe in infant baptism nor in the literal presence of Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist when Christ quite clearly tells and commands us this is so, then do you believe that one would honestly know that there are twelve days of Christmas, let alone faithfully observe such? So I guess we shouldn't trust in the music industry to keep with the holiday traditions.
So whom can we trust? Well obviously Orthodox Churches, such as our own, for it is quite clear we are still celebrating Christmas today. We can also trust in ourselves and our families, for if we truly wish to observe Christmas all season then we will. I for one kept my Christmas tree up all year this last year, but that was mostly because I was too lazy to put it down and it adds a nice splash of green to the house. But my tree is still up. And we most certainly can trust that Christ will always remind us the importance of the season.
Let it be known, there is never a bad time to thank God for sending His Son into the world. There is never a bad time to
praise God for the incarnation of our Lord and Savior who came to us in flesh to live among us, to eat like us, to rest like us, to work like us, to grow like us, and to die like us, though in a more tragic way. We talk about the cross throughout the whole year, mostly because as Lutherans our theology is literally called the Theology of the Cross, we are cross-central confessional Christians, but that doesn't mean we cant talk about the manger throughout the whole year as well. At least, thank Christ for entering into our lives. To thank him for blessing us with his eternal presence in the flesh. To thank him for shattering the dark silence, for he is the Word.
Now in our Gospel, we read that, “the light shines in the darkness.” The world is darkness, and before Christ came this was most certainly true. We know we are born with Original Sin, and that nothing we do will ever merit us forgiveness. Paul tells us quite plainly that that is blatantly obvious for if we could merit forgiveness through the Law, aka Works, then we would have and there would have been no need for Christ to come into our lives. But, because we are all slaves to sin, we couldn't save ourselves, therefore we needed a Savior to have faith alone in. Before Christ no one could enter heaven, for all had fallen into sin. And it is because of our sins that this world is darkness itself. Though God created all and deemed all good after creating everything, it is because of our sins that the world darkened. We are the reasons why the world is darkness, not God. God instead is the light, so when God came into our lives in the form of the Christ child, it was like a light suddenly, and finally, turned on in the vast ever darkness. Christ is the true light, he alone guides us out of the darkness, and he alone saves.
The contrast before and after the birth of Christ is stark. For before Christ there was pure darkness. You couldn't see the path in front of you, let alone your feet. Were you on concrete or stone or grass or swamp? When you made your next step what would your foot land on? No one knew. We were lost in our darkness, in the wilderness, and the way home was unclear. The Kingdom where God reigns was lost to us. We knew of it, but not how to get to it. The Home of our Father, was somewhere, but because of our incompetence to wade through the darkness, there is no hope of ever reaching it by our own power. But after the true light came into the world, the way home became clear. A light was revealed, and the light shone on the path, and in the light was the door of our Father's house. So long as we walked in the light, or get back into the light if we were to stumble along the way, then we will reach home. Again not by our own power, but wholly because of the light that guides us.
But there is another contrast expressed in our Gospel, though not explicitly. We talk about darkness and light, but what about silence and noise? Is not Christ the Word? Words make noise, but Christ is not a mere noise nor a mere word but the true Word. He is the one whose coming shatters the silence. When Christ made the world alongside the Father and the Spirit – in accordance with Genesis which says, “Let us make Man in our image,” and in our Gospel which says, “All things were made through him,” with regards to the Word – he spoke and it came into being. All that was created was created through the Word of God, in the form of a verbal command. God spoke, and it was.
But in our sinfulness, we lowly creatures who live in darkness, live also in silence. The truth is not in us, we know not the truth, and even when it is revealed to us, unless we are of the truth, reborn in it, we ignore the truth. Left to ourselves, we not only wonder in darkness but a eerie darkness that is void of the truth, void of the Word. This silence we lived in was harsh. The only times when the silence was cracked was when the Lord God spoke to or through a prophet. To the average citizen, the only hope of escaping the silence was to hear a prophet, that was if there was a prophet. And it wasn't even the prophet that cracked the silence but God Himself through the prophet. We not only lived in dark times, but also in silent times.
So When Christ did come into the world in the form of a child, wailing like every other babe upon birth, His cry was the cry that all had waited long for. His coming didn't merely crack the silence, but shattered it as the world was forever changed. He was the Word made flesh, so as he entered the world of silence which knew not the truth it was like a chorus of angels and a fanfare of a thousand trumpets suddenly and abruptly lit up a silent auditorium where not even a breath was heard. His coming forever changed us, for He is the spoken Truth we've waited so long for.
You've heard the saying, democracy dies in darkness, let me tell you that darkness dies with the Truth.
You've heard the song “The Sound of Silence,” a sad song of hopelessness about a man whose words of warning fall on the deft ears of those who worshiped a fabricated god which
encourages silence. Let me tell you instead, that silence cannot coexist with the presence of Christ who is the very example of the loud truth that cannot be quieted.
You've heard the first first of Silent night, may even be able to recite it, but let me tell you the second verse. For even though the song begins with the words silent night, holy night, the second verse enlightens us with the knowledge that that night was anything but silent. “Silent night, holy night! Shepherds quake at the sight; Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ, the Savior, is born! Christ, the Savior is born!” If you look at the verse closely, hymn 65 in the green hymnal, you would notice that every single sentence ends with an explanation mark! The verse is practically shouting to all who hear that angels are singing and that the savior is born. On top of that, as I hear this verse I am reminded of the words of another Lutheran pastor who says as you hear these Christmas songs that mention silence, way the silence of the world against the deafening birth of the Word made flesh.
So whereas you may take down the decorations and cease the Christmas music, that does not mean you have to leave behind the Christmas Spirit. So long, throughout the year, you never forget that the Word that was there since the beginning came into the world and became flesh, know this, the Christmas Spirit is still within you. You may not have candy canes or hot chocolate or wreaths or tree. You may even be worshiping with a jazz band outside. But so long as you remember the Word made flesh, the birth, then you are maintaining the core of Christmas.
And whereas it might be a little odd, I wouldn't mind the occasional Christmas song out of season.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, if left to ourselves we would surely be lost in our silent darkness, but because you love us beyond all understanding you gave to us your Son, the Christ Child, Word made flesh, to be the brilliant Truth that leads us to. In your holy name we pray, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.