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Started Over. Christmas Day 2014


Christmas Day

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. John 1:1-14

December 25, 2014

Started Over

 

Iesu iuva

 

And the word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

 

Look at the stable with the goats and donkeys and oxen and whatever animals were there. That stable outside the inn where there was no room.  Look into the manger, the crib out of which the animals eat.  Look at the baby lying there, swaddled in bands.

 

You are looking then at the one who was in the beginning.  You look into the beginning when you look into His eyes.

 

You look into the eyes of the one who saw your unformed substance before one of your days came to be.  He saw you before time began, before there was light, before the sky separated waters from waters, before dry land appeared.

 

Those eyes you meet in the infant lying in the crib, the manger, amidst the clucking chickens and the cow and those animal smells.

 

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  Before the sun ever rose, before there was an ocean teeming with creatures, before Leviathan played in the depths there was life in Him.  And all the things that would be would be for Him.  They would come from Him, pass through His fingers, pass across His lips as He spoke them.  And the air they breathed and the light which marked out their horizons was the life that was and is in Him.

 

We want to find life.  Would we have ever looked for life there, here, in a baby wrapped up among the animals?

 

You would think that the animals would be scared by the close proximity of the beating heart of the life of the world.

 

But there is peace here where the Lord of the world lies.  Beyond all comprehension is the peace that He brings.  He comes with no war in His heart and He is not ashamed of the grime and dirt He has come to live in.  The Lord comes in peace.  He makes His dwelling among us.  He takes up residence in and among us, in our skin, bone, blood.

 

In the growing bones, beneath the soft baby skin, breathing softly, in the blood gushing through fragile veins is the Almighty, the Lord.

 

The dear eternal Son of the Father is ours.  Could God give something more, something better?  Less than we are able to give something better than our only sons.

 

Oh Christmas Day!  If only our hearts were wide enough to hold a sliver of the joy of your birth, O Christ our Lord.

 

For God our God has held nothing back from us!  There is the proof—the baby held by blessed Mary!  He is the Father’s dear child, now also a poor woman’s dear child.  He is the Holy Father’s beloved Son to whom He gave everything, through whom He made everything!  And He is your dear child, your dear baby, because He is for you.

 

He is the ancient, omnipotent Word of the father that expresses all His heart and mind, and now all the fullness of that Word is clothed in our flesh.  The word that made you has come into the world beside you, to live with you, to live for you, to be wholly and completely yours.  And you completely and wholly His.

 

But how can He come to me and be mine, you say.  Some people are afraid to have babies because they are afraid that they will injure them, hurt them, ruin them.  Some people are afraid to hold babies because they do not want to drop them.

 

How can such a priceless gift be given to us, to lay in a manger with the smell of animals?  How can you, O Father, give your Son to smell our stench?

 

Or do you think that really you would take good care of this Word, this life that has come to dwell among us?

 

Do you need to be reminded of all the priceless things you’ve broken, wasted, despised?  There was paradise.  Your ancestors destroyed it.  They befouled what was holy.  Took what was forbidden.  Rejected life.  And you are their child.  God gave you your body and you didn’t appreciate it until it started not to work.  When it was young and strong you used it to serve your pleasure and will.

 

God gave you parents who loved you, clothed you and fed you and changed your diapers.  And you live as if they were born to serve you.  You took lightly their instruction.

 

Our lives are littered with broken things, gifts we broke, discarded.  All of them were the handiwork of this Word who now lies cradled in the manger.

 

There is holy marriage and your spouse God gave you to love, and you did not recognize this holy gift came from the Word that lies before you.

 

There were your coworkers and boss that the Word designed for you to love and serve and be schooled by, and you despised His handiwork.

 

How will you be able to take Him for your own?  What horrors will you inflict on Him?

 

No, you must take Him up with your soiled hands.  You must let this baby be born in a stable among the animals and the stench, and you must take Him up in your soiled hands, the hands that once took what was forbidden.  You must take Him up and place Him in the soiled manger of your heart, because it is for that purpose that the Father has given Him.

 

He knows your hands will bruise Him and that your heart is a wilderness, no safe place for a baby.  He knows, the Father knows, more deeply and intimately than you do, with tears—the darkness that is in you.

 

He knows the evil that you have become, but He knows one thing that will make you new, and that is His Son,t he Word, becoming what you are.

 

You must take Him up in your hands and claim Him as your own.  You must allow Him to be Christ the Savior who is born for you.  You must allow Him to bear your iniquity and be bruised and slain by your hands.  You must allow Him to be your Lord and not try to prevent Him from shedding His blood for you.

 

Yes, you must eat His flesh and drink His blood, for in His flesh and blood are life.

 

Indestructible life that cannot be overcome by the darkness that is in you, in the world, in hell, or anywhere else.

 

No, His life swallows up your darkness and death.  His life eats the death and darkness in you.  That is what will happen when His blood flows on the cross.

 

Whoever receives Him, whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood, has life.  Whoever believes in Him has eternal life.  Whoever believes in this baby will not kill this baby, defile this baby, but will be born again of God into this baby’s image.

 

Those who received Him He gave the right to become the children of God.

 

It is those who will not receive Him, who pretend that they can get by without taking Him in dirty, evil, murderous hands—they have eternal death.  They do not receive Him or know Him.  Because they do not know that the eternal Son has come, and the Holy Father has given Him, that He might receive our dirt and filth and wickedness, our inability to handle Him with reverence, our sin and all our helplessness in it.

 

He has come to receive that so you might receive Him and His life.

 

Look at Him.  He is the ancient of days, but now He has a beginning.  He who has no beginning has a beginning.  It is your new beginning, so that all of your old and broken may fall on Him and be broken and destroyed and His eternal newness and life may be yours.

 

You are started over.

 

How?

 

Only by His birth in that smelly cradle.

 

He is born.  God has started you over.

 

Amen.

 

The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Soli Deo Gloria

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