Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day Sermon

Christmas Day
John 1:1-14
Bror Erickson

[1:1] 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 enlightens 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. John 1:1-14 (ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This is what Christmas is about, the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. The Word was God. And of course if he was God, then he still is God. You don’t stop being God. But John wrote this in this particular way to stress that this Christmas story is not the story retold in so many myths, and histories of great men and Emperors, such as Alexander the Great, becoming a god. That is a tired story that always ends in the same way, death. Those stories can be exciting along the way, men conquering continents, gaining power, doing things never before thought possible, but the inevitable always happens, they die and the grave isn’t so unbelievable. We see plenty graves, experience many deaths, before we face our own. Death is the one enemy of man that man has never been able to conquer, that is until God became one of us and dwelt among us. That is what this story is about. Today we celebrate God becoming man, the Word becoming flesh, for us men and our salvation.
The tired story, this is the story the world wants to sell. Like a dime novel publishing company selling westerns, the story doesn’t change with the title. The character names, the place setting may change, but the story doesn’t. The same character with a new name comes into town minding his own business, but gets caught up in the town's woes, and shoots the bad guy at high noon. The story is more tired than the Steven Segal movie plot. The world wants to sell the same story, and chafes at the thought that the story could change. For some reason the world even finds it offensive, takes it as an affront, the suggestion that the story needs to change. No, the world wants it to stay the same. It sells to the sinful desires of man, to become like God, to become a God. And behind each of these stories sold is the inspiration that you too can become great. You can live on in legend like Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps you too can be great like Alexander. And when you get tired of reading the biographies of great men and women, there are the how too books teaching you how to live the moral life, and overcome your personal demons, how to turn your life around, change and become better. Religion we believe becomes precisely about this, changing your life. It is a message that sells. You too can. We start our children off on it with stories of little engines that could. And there isn’t really anything wrong with that, wanting to change your life, overcome personal demons, and be a better person according to worldly standards. There is nothing wrong, in fact everything right with kicking a drug addiction, teaching your kids right and wrong, and to be all they can be.
Yet the world doesn’t normally stop there. It is insidious enough that it sells the idea that by so doing we take control of our lives, and prove to ourselves that we are gods over our own life. That by moral progression we can bypass the cross of Christ and save ourselves. In fact the world is so enamored with the story that it sells, that it tries to corrupt the gospel of Christ, saying that Christ merely made it possible for us, showed us how to overcome, showed us how to beat this world, showed us how to become gods as he became a god. And this is the story our flesh likes, this is the story we like. Our flesh actually likes this story. So it boggles our mind that when we are so busy trying to become like God, that God would become one of us. But that is the new story, the true story, a story that ends in life, not just for the hero but for you and me, life for the world. When man attempts to become like God, as he did in the garden deceived by the serpent, man dies. This is the problem with the story the world tries to sell us. It ends in our death, always the same. Yes the hero might come out on top for a time, the guy in the white hat wins the shoot out, but in the end he dies, and evil still reigns in the world. Death claims all. That is what happens when man tries to become God. But when God becomes man, when the word becomes flesh and dwells among us, something different happens. God lives our life, he carries our sin, dies our death, but then rises from the grave, conquers death, overcomes the world, so that just as he lived our life, now we can live his life, for he gives it to us, eternal life, that never ends, never dies. When God becomes man, man begins to live, to truly live, life without death.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


ElizabethF said...

Thank you for being true to the Word. God is truly gracious and merciful. That He loved us that much is sometimes hard for me to even fathom. But by faith I believe it and rejoice with the angels and all the saints in heaven and earth. Glory to God in the highest indeed!

Bror Erickson said...

Thaks for the encouragement, ElizabethF.