Sermon: The Best Christmas Gift
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth. [St. John 1:14]
In the Sunday Mercury News, they have a magazine called USA Weekend. It is a terrible magazine that I rarely read. However, last Sunday’s edition caught my eye. The cover was “How Americans imagine God,” but the letters G-O-D, were really made up of small and large words.
It seems this magazine had people, via email, tell what they imagine God is like. All opinions were welcomed, even those of atheists. The words on the cover that made up the word “God” included some of these attributes. They included “fatherly,” “motherly,” and even “goddess.” They also included “love,” “creator,” “just,” “universal,” “all,” “soul,” and so on. The larges word was “love.” What was equally interesting to me was that some words were repeated; others were not.
There was only one word that, for me, was important. I looked all over for it, but it was not easy to find. It was off in a corner of the letter “D” and was not the largest word, though certainly not the smallest. And, as best as I could ascertain, it only appeared once. That word was “Jesus.”
Unless we are atheists, there is a very human need to know what God is like. We want to know if He is kind, loving, vengeful, or merciful. Some people even want to know if God is male or female or both or neither. But, whatever our opinion may be as to God, the truth is that, if we are Christian, we DO know what God is like. For, we believe that God became Man when He was born of a virgin. And, with His birth comes a real and tangible way of knowing God.
Now, not all religions are like Christianity. Many have an image of God that is different than ours. Moslems believe that God is all powerful, capable of doing anything. Unlike Christianity which believes God to be consistent, and therefore cannot contradict Himself, Moslems believe that God can do whatever He wants, even if it contradicts what He Himself says is right.
So, for us Christians, what IS God’s nature? What is He like? Is He love? Is He just? Is He motherly or fatherly? Is He really a She? In our lessons for today, we get a very good sense of what His nature truly is.
In our Gospel lesson tonight, we have Saint John’s account of the Incarnation. In his version, there are no angels, no dreams; there are no shepherds and no magi. No, instead we have a very mystic account of the Incarnation. But, in this account, we do get a much better sense of the nature of God.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
God became flesh. God took upon Himself the form and burden of our humanity. He emptied Himself and became a servant, a man for others, who was like us in all aspects except He is without sin. He did this out of love, but He also did this so that we can better understand God. In other words, the world, darkness, did not comprehend the light, so the Light had to come to us.
GOD, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
God became Man so mankind could know even better the nature of God. And that nature truly is love. However, Jesus did not come down just to say, “God loves you.” No, He showed God’s love with one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring acts of self-sacrifice.
Not only did Jesus die on the Cross, He died as our sacrificial lamb – as our scapegoat, if you will. In other words, like the scapegoat of ancient times, all the sins of mankind were heaped on Christ. He felt the weight and the burden of our sins; He experienced the darkness of our souls. And Christ took all this upon Himself so that we could be saved. If this is not love, I do not know what it is.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
But Jesus was born of a virgin for another reason as well. He was born of a virgin so that we may know what God wants of US.
Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Christ became man so that we may know the way. He died on the cross so we would know the truth. And He rose from the dead so that we may have eternal life.
The way, the truth, and the life: this is God’s gift to us this Christmas. So, my question to you is what is OUR gift to God? Is it a stiff neck? Is it a stubbornness that cannot admit that we sin? Is it disobedience?
The ONLY way we can truly show our love for God is by following what Christ commanded us to do. We are to love God with all our heart, soul, body, and mind. This means honoring God by worshipping Him, by making our bodies and minds temples to God, and by recognizing His existence and involvement in our lives. Additionally, we are to love our neighbors like ourselves. We are to show our love for God by how we treat others.
So, let us show that we are a thankful people by changing. Let us adopt that which Christ asked us to do. Let us love God, and let us love one another. And if we do this, we will be giving God the very best gift we could ever give Him. We will be giving Him ourselves – just like Jesus gave Himself for us. God bless you all and have a very merry and holy Christmas.