December 25, 2011
TEXT: John 1:1-18/Hebrews 1:1-12/Isaiah 52:7-10
THE WORD MADE FLESH SPEAKS GRACE AND TRUTH!
Rev. Kenneth Wieting

In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…through whom also he created the world.  Dear hearers of the Word made flesh – As the Russians greet one another at Christmas - I congratulate you with the birth of Christ.


Concerning the nature of the child in the manger of Bethlehem, the Holy Spirit speaks to us with clarity through St. John; In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…All things were made through him…the world was made through him…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.

December 25, 2011
TEXT: John 1:1-18/Hebrews 1:1-12/Isaiah 52:7-10
THE WORD MADE FLESH SPEAKS GRACE AND TRUTH!
Rev. Kenneth Wieting

In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…through whom also he created the world. Dear hearers of the Word made flesh – As the Russians greet one another at Christmas - I congratulate you with the birth of Christ.


Concerning the nature of the child in the manger of Bethlehem, the Holy Spirit speaks to us with clarity through St. John; In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…All things were made through him…the world was made through him…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.


In Him the years are put aside.  In Him the centuries are passed over.  In Him the ages are rolled back.  You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment…But you are the same, and your years will have no end. 


In the beginning was the Word.  The Jewish rabbis said that the Torah, the eternal Word, was in the beginning with God.  The Greek Gnostics of John’s day said that the “Logos”, “the Word”, “the divine spark” was the light and life of all things.  With one sentence John showed the deficiencies of both systems of belief.  John said that the Torah of the Jews (the eternal Word) and the Logos of the Greeks (the power and principle of life) became flesh!  The true word, the true giver and upholder of life, the second person of the holy Trinity became a human being born of a human mother.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
 
He who is – is born!  The Ancient of Days is a day-old infant!  He took our nature – yet gave not up His own.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!  He put on what He Himself had made.  He put on what He used to knit you together in your mother’s womb – flesh and blood!  His body was knit together in the Virgin’s womb.


John’s words are identical to the very first words of Scripture, “In the beginning.”  With the Father and the Holy Spirit, the baby born in Bethlehem has always been.  In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…all things were made through him.

All things!  This includes the universe.  This includes mankind, the crown of creation.


He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, (very God of very God – begotten not made – being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made) and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  This includes the planets in orbit and every chemical reaction.  This includes every beating heart and the incredible design that enables life on earth – design that it is not politically correct to acknowledge on university campuses in our day.  How deep the darkness is!


He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  As echoed in Dr. Martin Luther’s hymn stanza – The virgin Mary’s lullaby calms the infant Lord Most high.  Upon her lap content is He who keeps the earth and sky and sea.  Alleluia.  


Isaiah proclaimed it this way, the Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all nations, and the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.  When the Lord bared His arm to reveal His salvation to the ends of the earth, it was small and weak and able to be swaddled in strips of cloth. 


What is it about the life of mankind that would call forth such a gift from the hand of God?  What would cause the Word to become flesh and dwell among us full of grace and truth?  The writer of the Hebrews expressed it this way…After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3).  The Mystery of the gift of Christmas is to make purification for sins –our sins – the sins of the world.   To do so, it took the infinite worth and power of the Son of God.  To do so, the Lord bared his holy arm in the flesh of this infant!


This the world does not recognize.  He was in the world and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him (John 1:10).  Human spirituality tries to reach upward or inward to some higher power.  These spiritual designs tempt us as well for we are all by nature enthusiasts.  Our default setting is to set our own path to God – a reasonable, mood-driven, socially acceptable, controllable path to what is spiritual.  Until the day we die our itching ears will tempt us to put our feelings in the driver’s seat of efforts to know about God and or sense His actions.  Today’s collect therefore acknowledges the greatest treasure that God has given you and continues to give you – Almighty God, You have poured into our hearts the true Light of Your incarnate Word.  He is the Christmas gift worth receiving and worth confessing!  He is not at a distance!  He is not blowing about in space!  He is not inside your mind!  He is not one with nature.  He is now here in your midst to serve you – in the flesh!  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth!


God honors humanity by dwelling among us.  The tired old excuse, “I’m only human,” no longer flies.  Nor does the phrase, “to sin is human – to forgive divine.”  Christ is now human and as true man He forgives perfectly.  He also commands us to forgive as He forgives us.  Therefore “to forgive” is also human in the new creation that He has brought. 

He is the man God created us to be – without sin!  In His forgiveness, the image of God is being restored in you.  The most precious and the strongest consolation we Christians have is this, that the Word , the true and natural Son of God became man with flesh and blood; that He became incarnate for our sakes that we might enter into His glory.
 
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.  He is still the Word made flesh - He still dwells among us - full of grace!  It is that grace He gathers us together to receive!  The manger and the swaddling clothes not longer hold Him!  Water and Word and bread and wine do hold Him as His Word declares.  From His fullness we all receive grace upon grace!


The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.  He is still the Word made flesh - He still dwells among us - full of truth!  That means your sin is as bad as Jesus tells you it is – your lack of love and trust in God – the sin you cannot even discern!  He is full of truth.  That means His forgiveness is as free and total as He proclaims it to be. 

When He commands you to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, when He absolves you, when he speaks peace to you, when He feeds you with the forgiveness food of His very body and gives you to drink of His cleansing blood, you can trust His Word unconditionally.  He is full of truth! 


In many and various ways God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…through whom also he created the world.  What an awesome mystery Christmas is.  It is bigger than the universe!  It is bigger than your sin!  The heavens and earth will perish - they will all wear out like a garment.  Your sins also perish in the light of Christ’s forgiveness.  The most awesome act of God baring His holy arm in Christ is when the bare arms of the Savior were outstretched in crucifixion.   As weak as the bare arms of an infant appear, so weak do arms pinioned to an execution stake appear.  What strange and wondrous mystery as God’s glory and God’s power and God’s grace and God’s truth and God’s justice combine in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!  Risen from the grave His arms are now uplifted to give you the peace purchased by the blood of His cross and to intercede for you before the Father’s throne. 


By His grace and truth you are released from your deserved future and given the blessed future He has won for you.  His glory – glory as of the only Son from the Father is to redeem you.  Therefore - Break forth together in singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted His people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.  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.


I congratulate you with the birth of Christ.   Merry Christmas!  In the name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a