The Light Shines in the Darkness

Text: John 1:5, 12-13; Isaiah 52:6-10

Date: Christmas Day X12/25/06

      Today is our dancing day, our day of great rejoicing and gladness. Let our gladness have no end, alleluia! For today we celebrate the Incarnate Word, the Creating Word, the Living Word, the Word that is the Light shining in the darkness. On the Eve of Christmas we tell the story, the history of how God, the Son of God, took our human flesh upon Himself in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was made man. Today we celebrate the depth and meaning of this mystery; that He was born to be our salvation, our hope, our love and our light.

      It is the mystery of the Holy Trinity that all three Persons act in perfect concert and Unity as “the Lord our God, the Lord is one” [Deut. 6:4 (ESV)]. Yet each Person of God can have His particular work. For instance, for teaching purposes the Creed appears, at first, to identify the Father with the work of creation, the Son with redemption or salvation and the Holy Spirit with sanctification or making holy. Yet all three Persons are involved, participate and cooperate in all His works. It is the particular glory, however, of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, to be the communication link (if you will) when it comes to God’s interaction with His creation, specifically with His highest creation of humankind.

      When fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains are called upon to repeat the sounding joy of the songs of men employed, when the birds of the air scramble for their daily food or the lilies of the field stand arrayed in greater glory than Solomon, when Fido wags his tail and greets you at the door or

Princess curls her cat tail at your feet, they do so naturally and quite ignorant that there is any other way to be. Only man is created as “person,” to be in a cooperative relationship with the Creator and to know it: to be responsible—able to respond to the thoughts and words and will of the Creator. When God created the universe out of nothing He did so by speaking. “In the beginning was the Word…all things were made through Him.” God said “let there be,” and there was. And when it came to our salvation from our fallenness and sin, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

      Our salvation begins with the Incarnate Word from the foundation of the world. He says we can know we are saved, in a right, restored relationship with Him when we continue in His Word. He was never alone as He worked out the salvation of the world—tenderly cared for and protected as an infant by his human mother and her husband Joseph guided and guarded by the holy angels, in perfect communion with the Holy Spirit and the Father all His days of walking on the earth. It was only when He was lifted up from the earth, offering Himself as the single sacrifice that takes away the sin of the world that he was alone…desperately alone, as He said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” The deepest mystery, indeed!

      So it is as Martin Luther asks in his Christian Questions with their Answers for those who intend to go to the Sacrament, though there is only one God, “the Father is God only, as is the Holy Spirit; but the Son is both true God and true man. He died for me and shed His blood for me.”

      The Word, the flesh, the blood. All of this is said not of the Father, nor of the Holy Spirit, but solely of the Son of God. He is the one God in the flesh. So it is that “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” [Matthew 11:27 (ESV)]. Even the Holy Spirit “will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak” always pointing people to the Son [John 16:13 (ESV)]. Not only is “Jesus the reason for this season” but also, says the Word, “No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6 (ESV)]. “I and the Father are one” [John 10:30 (ESV)].

      The Son says, “I came that they may have life” [John 10:10 (ESV)]. So St. John testifies, “in Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Men need this light of life as the only remedy for the dark chaos of sin, the disarray of the world separated from God, left to its own folly in its struggle for life against the judgment of death. And so it is that, “as many as receive Him, to them He gives the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” born anew in Holy Baptism, restored, redeemed, forgiven in the Body and Blood given and shed for us, kept faithful in the Holy Spirit. “For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree” [1 John 5:8 (ESV)].

      A personal note, if you will, especially to the members of Zion Evangelical-Lutheran Church. And that is this: On this Christmas Day, 2006, we celebrate the God Who came to save us and has promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” [Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)]. As Isaiah said, not only will “My people know My name,” but, more importantly, He knows Your name. Through the years He has sent watchmen to bring good news, to proclaim peace, to bring glad tidings of good things, to proclaim salvation, to say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” The particular watchmen come with different names. But regardless of the man, “Thus says the Lord God…they shall know in that day that I am He who speaks: ‘Behold, it is I’” [Isaiah 52:6-10]. It is my prayer that in the current pastoral vacancy you may be enabled to love. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” [1 Cor. 13:4-7 (ESV)]. “Love came down at Christmas” [LW 46]. I urge each of you in the words of the Apostle Paul to be servants of reconciliation. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” [Rom. 12:10 (KJV)]. So it will always be, “When the Lord brings back Zion, break forth into joy, sing together, for the Lord has comforted His people.”

            Zion, your God reigns! Today He raises you up to reign with Him in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus our Lord. May the Lord bless you and give you peace.