“The Marvel of Christmas”


Christmas Eve

December 24, 2015

 

Text: John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-12; Psalm 98


 

 

          “Sing to the Lord a new song because he has done marvelous things!” So begins Psalm 98, our psalm for tonight. These words serve as a reminder to me of the marvel that Christmas is. I find that I often forget to marvel, to wonder, to be amazed. But when I think about it, I realize there is much to marvel about.

          Martin Luther said there are three miracles in Christmas:

  1. 1.that God became a human being
  2. 2.that the virgin became a mother
  3. 3.that the human heart should believe this

          Consider, too, the claims made in our lessons from Hebrews and the Gospel of John about this child who was born in a stable to common Galilean peasants, whose first bed was a feed bunk used by livestock, and was welcomed into the world by shepherds, who Judean society at that time regarded as being among the scum of the earth. One would expect that someone born in such circumstances would never amount to much. Yet Holy Scripture says of this child:

  • He existed with God from the very beginning
  • God created the world through him
  • He stands to inherit from God everything in heaven and earth
  • He is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s own being
  • He is the light that enlightens us
  • His powerful word maintains everything
  • He saved people from their sins
  • He authorizes those who welcome and believe in him to become children of God by the power of the Holy Spirit
  • He sits at the right hand of God, the seat of power and authority, as ruler of all things
  • He is greater than all the angels
  • In him, God lived among us

I have a hard time wrapping my brain around all this. It would be hard even comprehending such claims being made about a baby born to the rich, famous, and powerful. No one said stuff like this when England’s Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to their son George 2½ years ago, even though his mere birth put him third in line for the British throne behind his grandfather and father. Indeed, if anyone had made such claims about him, they would have been thought to be a bit cracked. To say such things about any human baby is inconceivable.

Yet Scripture tells us, and our faith proclaims, that this child Jesus, born in the meanest of circumstances in Bethlehem of Judea, an occupied territory of the Roman Empire, just over 2000 years ago, is in fact God’s Son, sent to save the world from its sins and bring all people into relationship with God as adopted children. Many of the Roman Emperors claimed to be divine. The same might actually have been claimed about any offspring who were expected to become emperor. But to say such a thing about the child of peasants from an occupied people surely would have struck the vast majority of people living in that time and place as being totally ridiculous. That anyone actually accepted these claims about Jesus as true and chose to live accordingly is utterly astounding.

The marvel of Christmas is that the Creator and Ruler of the universe showed up in our world as a helpless baby, a common peasant, an ordinary flesh and blood human being, in order that we might be transformed from our own gritty earthly reality to become God’s adopted sons and daughters, delivered from our sins in order to have the life God means for us in this life and in the life to come, and brought into right relationship with God. This is nothing short of amazing. And it is the truth by which we are saved. Let us come and adore, come and worship, with awe and wonder. Thanks be to God.

                                                                             Amen.

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