Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Proclamation

John 1:1-14English Standard Version (ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to becomechildren of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
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.

“Are You Ready for Christmas?”
John 1:1-14
December 25, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Are you ready for Christmas?”  I heard that question asked a number of times in the office hallway by various folks during the past two weeks.  I myself have been asked that question a number of times.  It’s a curious question.  A question that gets asked a lot during this season.  It’s not really a serious question.  More of a pleasantry during the time of Christmas.  It’s sort of on the same level as, “How are you?”  But I think the answer being sought – on the surface – is something like this: “As you finished preparing everything for the celebration of Christmas?”  In other words, are you finished decorating the house?  Are you finished with all of the baking you planned to do?  Are all of your Christmas gifts purchased?  Do you have all the food lined up for your Christmas feast?  Or maybe it’s something more like this: Something like: “Are you ready for some football?” ala ABC Monday Night Football title sequence.  One is preparation, the other is the excited expectation for what is about to happen.  We probably don’t think much beyond those types of responses for that question.  But is there more to this than first meets the eye?  Could “Are you ready for Christmas?” mean something more?
Israel wasn’t ready for Christmas.  They weren’t ready to receive their Messiah for who and what he is.  Because he wasn’t the kind of Messiah they were looking for.  They were ready for a strong and powerful Messiah who would come to do mighty works – saving them from political oppression - and make Israel a great nation and world power again – like in the days of King David and King Solomon.  A man, a prophet, John came to get the people ready by –as another John wrote in our Gospel lesson – “Coming as a witness, to bear witness about the light”  That is, the light shining in the darkness of our world – the Word who was with God and who was God.  John was to bear witness about the light so that all might believe.  But they did not.  They weren’t ready.  And when that true light came into the world – born in the flesh in Bethlehem – Israel didn’t receive him.  In fact, not long after Jesus’ birth, King Herod even tried to kill Him.  He through whom the world was made – the word of creation – had come into his creation and took on the flesh of creation – tangible, real, touchable, hearable, seeable – in other words – knowable by humanity.  And He came to His own, His own people, the chosen people of God – Israel.  But His own people didn’t receive Him.  It was like: Here’s the guest of honor at the party – but no one knew who He was – and most ignored Him – and then threw Him out.  No, Israel wasn’t ready.  They weren’t ready for Christmas.
But Jesus was ready for Christmas.  The light, the Word, Jesus of Nazareth was ready.  He came to do the will of the one who sent Him.  He came ready for the mission – the mission given him by His Father.  He came ready to be the Christ and all that being the Christ means – all that was foretold by the Prophets.  Not to be a glorious king like David or Solomon – making Israel a great nation and a world power again.  His was to be a different kind of glory.  THE GLORY OF THE CROSS – the reason for his coming – the reason for Christmas.  That glory doesn’t look at all like the kind of glory anyone would expect.  He didn’t look much like light shining in the darkness while dying on a cross.  But this was the will of the Father – that He come to pay the price for our refusal to know him.  He came to die for those who rejected him, those who hated him, those who killed him.  He came to die for a world that isn’t ready for Christmas at all.  And his glory – the cross is the glory of the only Son from the Father and full of grace and truth.  That, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is Christmas – the coming of our Savior to save the world – a world that rejects its Lord and God.
So are we ready for Christmas?  Being ready for Christmas isn’t what we usually think.  Christmas isn’t about getting ready by decorating and baking and gift purchasing and the like.  If not, then how do you and I get ready?  The season of Advent that we just finished was a season of preparation, of introspection, of repentance, of expectation.  All in preparation for the one who has come.  Those sorts of things are preparation – getting ready for Christmas.  But I really don’t know that we can be fully ready for Christmas.  How can we be possibly be ready for the King of kings and Lord of lords?  We poor miserable sinners have too much standing in the way for us to prepare for Him.  No, we can’t really prepare for Christmas.  No, we ARE PREPARED by Him.  We are prepared by Jesus.  
Are you ready for Christmas?  Listen again to John:
“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.  Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
He must prepare us.  We must be born of God.  Our Lord must prepare us by ending our lives as we know it and raising us to new life in Him.  We must die with Christ in baptism and be born to rise to new life with him just as he rises from the dead.  Christmas preparation is done TO us.  Being ready for Christmas began, not with decorations and cards and cookies, but in baptism – God’s Christmas gift to you.  Belief in the one who has come – in the flesh – and tabernacled, or tented among us – belief in Him is being ready for him – being ready for Christmas.  That’s the gift of God to you in Christ.
Are you ready for Christmas?  In Christ, you have been made ready for His coming, and His second coming.  He has come to bring you and me a Christmas gift – a precious, priceless gift – the gift of forgiveness, the gift of eternal life in His kingdom.  And that fact, is the true joy of Christmas – not just on December 25th, but for eternity.
A most blessed Christmas to each of you.  Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment