Sermon for Christmas Day, 2017 - John 1:1-14
Jesus is a bearing God. A God who bears up the world, the broken, the tired, the sinner by an outstretched arm. By an arm that wins victory. He is also a bearing God who births things. Births humans, souls of sinners, from old to new. That is Christmas. The God who creates becomes a created thing just for a moment to save the creation by giving birth to a new one.
You have probably never thought of this day, Christmas day, as Easter have you? A Resurrection day. A day when what is old dies, and what is new comes. The coming of Christ becoming the death of sin, the perishable, the mortal, and the giver-of-life, the true birther comes. First Corinthians 15 tells us so. It’s read so often at funerals. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Being of the dust, Christ came of the dust, to bring the dust to life. It wasn’t to sing happy birthday. It wasn’t for Hallmark cards, krumkake, and lefse. But if you have some, I will take some. Christmas, Christ's birth, it was for making new the old. Birthing something out of what is truly nothing. That is this Christmas morning for you. Your day of new life. A day in which, though your mortality hits you like a ton of bricks. That you break bones. Have fevers. Need surgery. Get weaker, grayer, blinder. That is Christmas for you. Not about giving out a bunch more hugs, but God hugging flesh to become like you so that you will be birthed anew in him.
We like to think of other things about Christmas. Not thinking it has something to do with our mortality. 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. Not receiving because we don’t think we need what he gives freely.
But with mortality comes a necessity. A necessity of this savior-God to be that birthing God. A God who comes to give birth to his children. Reborn in Christ. John 3:3 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” A necessity that does it’s work because God has come to do it in Jesus.
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…
This sounds nice. Receive. Believed. Become. Giving us a taste of things we do. It’s where we get the American theology of accepting Jesus into your heart. Receive him. Just accept him. Even the Baby Jesus in the golden diapers. Just accept him. He wants you to. This all sounds good. It lives up to our American idealism. Our potential. But we miss something by stopping here…
…who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
I don’t know about you but I did not choose my birth. I had no part in the planning. No one asked my permission. We could stop there, but then John adds…not of blood. Not born naturally. Not born of the genetic way. Born in some other way.
This also takes out the will of the flesh. We don’t wake up and say, today I will be born again. Today I will be made new. A thought of desire. Because we don’t desire it. We don’t wish to think of our life as something that needs to be renewed. We either think things are fine, or that they really suck with no hope. Yet John preaches to us a birth that comes not based on desire, but of something else.
Last is the will of man. More notably, a husbands will. Try that on for size. Call up dear old dad, if you can, and say “Hey pops, I need your help.” Good luck with that. I’m getting all kinds of queasy up in here. Shivers. Bleh. No chance. No way, especially now that we know of DNA. My wife is a twin. You take her blood and her sister’s blood. Two different types. Different DNA. So even daddy could do something, what are the chances it would be you.
Throw in Nicodemus from John 3 that I quoted before. “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” God, I hope not. I’m praying. It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Impossible. But that is the Jesus business. The impossible. The miracle worker. The one who gives birth to children of God who receive him. Or take him. The verb means both. Imagine that. Taking. Clinging. Won’t let go.
Birthing children who trust in his name. Not just believe but trust. Trust in not their own birth. Their old birth. But trust that this one who comes in the flesh will make you new by a new birth in God.
This is why Christmas matters. A Jesus who goes around birthing these children, our prayer is first for our own birth. Being born in meagerness, humility, yet newness. Then prayers for the people of the world. Wondering if without this new birth, sin, evil, hate, death will reign. Until this is accomplished though, we pray. We live in Christ for others. Calling them not to live better, but to the one who gives life. Rebirth in a better way. The Word that was made flesh, remakes our flesh. For within that flesh of his is his abiding home. The place he makes his tent. His dwelling. Within you. For you. Always. Merry Christmas. Amen