A Babe of Beauty Born Today

Text: Matthew 1:21
Date: Christmas Eve + 12/24/10
Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word, Rochester Hills, MI

On this night, this holy, silent night, we gather to celebrate the birth of love, the restoration of peace. The angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.” So tonight we gather in awe around the tender scene of a mother and a newborn infant, A Babe of Beauty Born Today.

Of course, all babies are beautiful, no one more so than your own, or your own grandchild. You count toes and fingers and try to decide if he or she looks more like dad or mom. Everyone is so quiet in the newborn’s room. The child is passed around carefully, almost as if you were handling the most expensive china in your hands. A burp or other sound, an opened eye, an apparent smile are noted as monumental occasions. What a wonder! You stare and wonder, “what will become of this child?” It doesn’t matter if the birth was in a hospital or some other place. Good OB/GYN Dr. Luke tells us the infant Christ was born in a cave or stable outside a “No Vacancy” inn. Still, Mary held her newborn child with gentle firmness as Joseph stood in dutiful awe. Angels and stars and moon in the clear night sky declared—A Babe of Beauty was born today.

Sure, all babies are beautiful. But you know about us humans. They say, “Beauty is only skin deep.” That’s because, as beautiful a beginning as most of us may have, along with the gift of human life is the underlying, hereditary disease called sin. Some people, as they grow older, seem to be able to fight off the effects, the ugliness, the flaw, the blemish, the imperfection better or longer than others. Rarely, however, is it due to naturally “good genes” and most of the time it is a victory only of cosmetics. But all ultimately succumb to the curse of sin. Physically there is illness, infection, disease, disfigurement, dissolution and death. But the underlying ugliness is also anger, hatred, spite, prejudice, murder and everything that separates people from one another and ultimately from God. This, really, is what is behind the phrase, “the hopes and fears of all the years” that are met tonight in the appearance of this Babe of Beauty. They are the hopes of being delivered from this body of death, and the fears that we may ever be beyond the help and deliverance even of God.

Speaking to one like us yet uniquely chosen for the honor of offering our human nature to its Creator to lift and exult by Himself becoming incarnate, Mary is told “she will bear a son.” The angel told this to Joseph her husband who was already aware of the reality and predicament but was now given the revelation as to his special vocation as guardian of the Son of God. “She will bear a son.” And she did, on this night in which we celebrate amid the winter’s snow, Born for us on earth below (LSB 373), this Babe of Beauty.

For His true Beauty is more than skin deep. It is clothed in skin, but it permeates His entire being, holy and sinless in the flesh by God’s own Immaculate Conception. This is why even the bloody lashes and gashes of His cruel crucifixion, his hands and side, are, nevertheless, rich wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified (LSB 525:3). For, these are but the crimson trophies of His victory over sin and death not for Himself alone, but for you and for the whole world. For now baptismal water cleanses us from the ugliness of sin and the threat of death because in this washing His death is counted as our death and His righteousness ours. As we eat and drink of His true body and blood in the Holy Sacrament, His beauty becomes ours also from the inside! For it is the beauty of the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Then by faith in Christ even the old and last enemy of death becomes but a Beautyrest®.

A Babe of Beauty was born today. Though royalty of the great King David’s line, this one is born to rule the earth in gentle way. It is the way of the forgiveness of sins, of restoration and reconciliation in the love of God. He is the Babe of Beauty in whose name we pray:

Lord, give us peace this holy, holy day,
A worldwide peace that will last for aye.

Babe, a Babe, born today.
Babe of Beauty born today.[1]

[1] A Babe of Beauty ©1962, 1990 Concordia Publishing House. Text: Lois Schnoor.