Friday, December 27, 2013

The plan all along. . .

Sermon for the Nativity of our Lord, preached on Christmas Day, 2013.

    If you are like me, you probably grew up thinking God acts like we do.  He has plans and contingency plans and back up plans because nothing goes as you want it to.  In my case I thought Jesus was a last minute substitution into the game of salvation – a game which God has planned to win with the force of the Law and its demands to shape up.  When at the 1 yard line and it was clear the Law could not deliver, God sent in Jesus to bring home the victory.  Jesus who ended up a last minute plan B, an unplanned substitute when things went wrong.
    How wrong I was.  Today we heard John begin Christmas not with an angel's news to Mary or a forced trip to Bethlehem or a child born in a stable.  No, John begins at the very beginning this story of redemption.  Before the foundation of the world was made.  Before prophets and priests, before Law and Sinai, before David and Solomon, before Abraham and Moses, before Noah and Adam.  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and was God.
    In the beginning all things were made through this Word and nothing that is did not come through Him.  In Him was life and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.  The pre-incarnate Jesus, the Divine Logos, the Word was there from the beginning.  And in that Word was the future lying in wait to be revealed, to be fulfilled, to become flesh and dwell among us strong to save.
    The true Light was coming.  Not as some last minute substitution but the main plan all along.  The whole game hinged upon His coming and from the beginning this is how it was to be.  He came to a world that we made by Him but that recognized Him no more.  So great is sin's power that it stripped us of our memory to leave us fearful and afraid.  So grate is sin's power that it left us unable to recognize the face of our Maker.
    There are folks in my family who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's.  It is terrible curse to see people whom you love having their memories stripped from them until you become a stranger and their faces are left empty.  Perhaps you have family like this.  But that is exactly how we became to God.  When sin stripped away our memory, turned love into fear, God looked on us in love but we could not return that love.  We looked to Him with blank faces, the voice of our Creator became a stranger to us, even the voice of fear and terror.  Yet so great is His love that He loved us when we could not love Him.
    The Word of the prophets was like pieces of a puzzle, hints of this future, that would finally and fully come together when He became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.  To all who receive Him, to whom the Spirit breaks through the wall of fear and gives us faith, there is the right and privilege of His name, of His redemption, and of His family.
    We are born not of flesh and blood nor of the will of man but the will of God.  We have seen His glory.  It did not begin with shepherds and angels.  Before angels and shepherds, before full inns and evil Herods, before wise men and gifts, there is the Word that is now flesh to reveal all the glory of God in the grace that saves, redeems, and restores us.  What we lost in Eden and more.  What we surrendered to sin, the serpent, and the suffering of death and more.  More than we hope or dream.
    This glory of God is not accident in flesh but the game plan of God to save us.  The Law was our steward to protect us from ourselves until the Savior would come.  The Law points us to Him who can save a people with broken righteousness.  The Law becomes the delight of those who have met in the manger and the cross the Word made flesh.
    The Word before time has entered time as one of us, wearing our flesh and blood, to reset the clock and bring us from the defeat of our failures to the victory of His death and resurrection.  No, Jesus was no last minute sub but the game plan of God all along.  Have you ever watched a movie that kept you guessing until the end?  Only the God who is love could undertake such a plan and make it work for us and our salvation. 
    That is what we come for today.  For now it is fully and finally revealed.  It was always Jesus.  It was always grace.  It was always mercy.  It was always the plan.  Now the Father has made it plain and clear.  See Jesus and you see everything.  Amen.

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