Sermon for Christmas Day 2013

John 1:1-14 (The Nativity of Our Lord—Christmas Day)

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

December 25, 2013

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Our text is the Gospel lesson from John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

             He was coming into the world, the very God who made the world.  His coming into the world was planned from eternity and promised through the centuries from the mouths of the prophets.  God would come and save humanity from the darkness of sin, death, and the devil.  The Word would become flesh and dwell among us as true God and true Man in the person of the One named Jesus, who would save His people from their sins. 

            So, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman,” the Virgin Mary. (Gal. 4:4)  The true Light of the world, the Word-Made-Flesh, sent by the heavenly Father came.  In the child of Mary, the God-Man Jesus, was life itself, life that is the light of people who wander around in the dark blindness of sin.  And the people were indeed blind to Him.  He came to His own people, the people of Israel, and they did not receive Him as God, Light, or Life.  They rejected Him as the very Savior whom God had promised them in His holy Word.  What’s more, Jesus the God-Man, the Light and Life of the world, was in the world, and even though He made the world, the world didn’t know Him either. 

            Not much different today, is it?  Jesus, the Light of the world has come, yet the world chooses to remain in the darkness of sin and Satan.  People refuse to receive Jesus as true God, Light, Life, and Savior.  That’s the very condemning nature of sin.  In fact, at one point in each of our lives, we too rejected Jesus.  As we were conceived and born in sin, we were conceived and born blind to the riches of God’s grace to us in Christ.  Paul writes the Word of God in Ephesians 5:8 revealing to us that “at one time you were darkness.”  We were enemies of God, separated from Him because of our sins which are at odds with His perfect holiness.  Ephesians 2 puts it this way, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”  (Eph. 2:1-3)

            Because of our sinful darkness in which we all live, the Word of God took on our flesh to be our Savior.  He suffered in His life all the things that we suffer—the grief, the pain, the temptations, the wants and the needs of a fallen world.  Jesus entered the darkness of a sin-filled world of evil and death to bring to every person the light of life in the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life in the glorious presence of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Through His death on the cross, bearing the sins of the world, Jesus won our life.  He won our rescue from death and the devil.  He purchased our forgiveness with His own blood so that we are now dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 6:11)

            These gifts of forgiveness, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation the Lord offers and gives people freely through the Gospel Word and the Sacraments of Jesus, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  The Word continues to be sent out to a world living in the darkness of sins and under the shadow of death.  Christ continues to come to people with the light and life of His grace and mercy and blood-bought forgiveness and salvation.  Yet so many in our world do not know Him by faith as their Savior.  So many refuse to receive the free gifts He brings.  Instead, they mock Him and His Word.  They discount His Scriptures as out-of-date and useless in a “modern” world.  They remain blinded by their sin and under the darkness of the devil. 

            But there are those who have received Christ by faith.  In the days of the New Testament, when our Lord walked among us, there were many who received Him, who believed on His name and so became children of God by faith in Jesus, covered in the forgiving blood of Christ, receiving from Him light and life.  Some examples would include the shepherds who came to see the newborn God-Man, Jesus; Simeon and Anna who waited in the Temple to receive their Savior into their arms; Peter, Andrew, James, John, Paul, and the other apostles; the woman at the well; Bartimaeus; Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea; Mary His mother, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and countless unnamed others.  And let us not forget John the Baptist.  He was especially sent by God in order to be a witness to Jesus, the Light of the world, so that people might hear the Good News of Jesus and His coming into the world as Savior.  John was sent to announce the coming of Christ so that people might believe through Him and not remain in the darkness and blindness of sin, under the curse of death and the devil. 

            This is also our role as those who have become children of God by faith in Jesus, the Word made flesh and dwelling among us, our Light and our Life.  In Christ, we have seen the glory of God—His grace and mercy and love shown to us in the cross of Jesus, His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins which guarantees our everlasting life.  We have received, by faith, the Word of God in the Gospel.  We have been given clean hearts and made into new creations by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Means of Grace in Word, Baptism, and Supper.  While it is true that “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”  We now, by faith as the children of God in Christ, walk as children, not of darkness, but of light.  (Eph. 5:8-10)  As Jesus tells us, “You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14-16)   Or, to use Jesus’ official commissioning words, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

            Like John, you and I as believers in Jesus, children of God, are sent by our Lord to be His witnesses in a world that is still lost in darkness and sin.  We are sent in our different vocations to point people to the hope and mercy and love of Jesus Christ, the God who took on flesh to save and rescue and redeem.  You and I become for others the very light of Christ in their lives when we offer to them the message that Jesus loves them and is with them in their troubles.  We are the light of Christ when we announce to others that in Jesus their sins are forgiven and that they do not need to continue to live under the great burden of guilt and shame.  Our actions of mercy demonstrate the light of Jesus to others as we help others in their physical needs by donating to the Food Shelf, shoveling a sidewalk for a neighbor, listening to a coworker’s concerns, praying for someone, or volunteering our time and resources to make someone’s life better or easier. 

            We who live in the light and life of Jesus share the light and life of Jesus.  As Jesus was sent into the world to bring the light and life of forgiveness and salvation to us all through His life, suffering, death, and resurrection, so you and I are sent into the world with the Gospel message of Christ and His saving work to share so that others might believe and be saved.  As John was sent to bear witness to Christ, so you and I are sent to be witnesses of Christ in everything we say and do.  We have the joy and privileges of proclaiming Him as our Savior and Lord while living our lives in accordance with His Word.  We share in the lives of others by giving them the mercy and love of Christ through our works and words.

            The true Light of the world, Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, has come.  He has borne for us the sins of the world and removed them from us as far as the east is from the west.  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14)  We have received Him by grace through faith as our Savior from sin, death, and the devil.  Now, like John, we live our lives as faithful witnesses to Christ the Light and Life of the World, so that others might believe in His name and so be made children of God.  God grant us the ability and the blessing to do so now and in the year to come.  Amen. 

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