Featured Image courtesy of Full of Eyes
December 25, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
“Unto us Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” INI + AMEN.
Today, we get to remember where God is. It’s a happy day because of where God is. It’s why we can even have a merry, merry, holly, jolly Christmas at all. Now, I’ve got a pretty good idea of how most people—pastor’s included!—would answer the question. Where’s God? Well, heaven, of course! True, but that‘s only partially right; it misses the point of what we’re celebrating today!
You see, it makes God far off. It makes Him something “other,” makes Him distant, disconnected, detached, indifferent. What sort of connection can you have with such a God? What sort of relationship? It would all be based on what you feel or think or do. It would be on you to find the right feelings, think the right thoughts, do the right (good) things in order to feel, know, or accomplish some sort of connection with your Creator.
But no matter how much we did, felt, or thought, we would still be disconnected from God by a great distance. Think about it: how far is heaven from us? Pretty far, huh? That’s some distance to make up, some hurdles to overcome. But is God so divorced from His creation? If Christmas never happened, He certainly would be.
((3. God’s not far off))
You see, God‘s not that far off. But we so often think so, especially when we’re in trouble. Then it’s like God flipped the switch or something. Maybe He flipped the wrong one—like on Christmas vacation. The lights have gone out, maybe they never went on! We’re just left in darkness. Where’s God then?
It’s not just in our trouble—in our sin, too! When we sin, when we’re confronted with our sins, our shame over giving in to them again, we think God’s far away. That He’s gone away. We think we’ve done something for Him to leave us alone.
Even if none of that’s true for you, we still tend think of God like we think about Christmas lights. Let me explain what I mean. The world is the lights. Yes, God set up the lights, but now He’s set the timer. Things happen according to some sort of divine rules or laws. God has as much to do with the world as you do with your lights once you put them out and set the timer. That’s just how we naturally think about God: big, powerful guy with a big white beard in the sky.
((2. He created and came to His creation))
Now, God did create everything—from nothing. 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.
But He’s not just some Creator off somewhere. The Word, who is God, who is one with His Father, isn’t off somewhere. The eternal Word, God Himself, is the Creator of all things, from the stars and galaxies above, to the birds and the bees, to you and me. He upholds and controls everything. Not as some disconnected, disinterested ruler, but He’s intimately connected with His creation. The Creator becomes Creature.
That’s the joy of Christmas. The Creator isn’t far away off in heaven. In fact, wherever He is, that is heaven, that is paradise. You want to know where God is: He’s wherever Jesus is. He’s the Creator become creature, He’s God become man, He’s ”pleased as Man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.” Immanuel. God with us. Jesus is God with us, God one of us to save us.
((1. He dwells with His people.))
He’s one of us to dwell with us, to live with us, to live as one of us. To live the dark times, to bring light to the dark times, to bring life and immortality to light, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great Light,” “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” He endured the darkness to win a way through the darkness. He had friends die. He Himself died—the darkness of Calvary’s hill. There we see that our sins don’t and can’t separate us from Him. He bore them to pay for them. Not only is He friend of sinners; He’s the Savior of sinners. He saves not only from sin but from death. He rises again from death, never to die again. Because of this, those who trust Him, will rise again to eternal life and He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Jesus was born not just as a cute baby, but born to be Redeemer, Savior.
He was “born to raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth.” Jesus is God, and He was born that we might be born of God. To those who receive Him, whether shepherds, tax collectors, sinners, astrologers, adultresses, even pharisees, murderers, and thieves, “to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” It’s God’s will and His work that they received Him. He opened their hearts to hear and receive His Word—you, too! You were “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” but born of water and the Spirit.
In this way He dwells with us. We aren’t separate from God because we’re not separate from Jesus. Wherever Jesus is, there’s God because He is God. And He’s united Himself to us in His flesh. He is man—not just man for 33 years, but even now and forever! And you are united to Him, clothed with Him, died and raised with Him in Holy Baptism. You’re blood relatives with Him, too! Certainly adopted in Baptism, but also blood relatives. You’re blood brothers and sisters with Jesus, having received His body and blood in the Supper. In this way He dwells with us with His “grace and truth” until we dwell with Him forever.
Today, we’re having a merry, merry, holly, jolly Christmas! God’s not far off! He can’t be. He’s Immanuel. God with us. Jesus—God one of us. Jesus is intimately connected with His creation, He’s connected with you. You’ve been united to Him and so you’re connected to the Father, too. We celebrate Jesus’ birth, but more importantly we celebrate that the Creator became Creature, God became Man. Even more importantly,
THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND DWELLS AMONG US.
He dwells with us now! With His grace and truth He does. He went through darkness, sin, and death to give you eternal life and eternal light in the midst of darkness. Christmas shines bright with the light of a Savior who was born, who died, and who was most certainly raised from the dead.
For a time, the manger, made of either wood or stone, was heaven on earth. For a time, God rested His head there to the praise and glory of angels and men. For a time, He rested His head on cross and in a tomb, but now all these are empty and gone. Heaven was and is wherever Jesus is. He dwells with us now: in His Word, His manger; in His Supper, His death for your forgiveness; in His Baptism, His resurrection for you; in His Absolution, His final judgment.
“Unto us Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” INI + AMEN.