Saturday, December 27, 2014
God our Emmanuel. . .
Creation is not all bad. It is a terrible lie to say that nothing good remains. Food smells and tastes great even though it spoils and decays. Our lives are filled with sorrows but they are not without joys. In fact, the bruised fruit of the earth and our own bruised lives only heightens our sense both of what we lost to sin and our desire to see it all restored. This is part of what Scripture means when it describes creation groaning in expectation for the future Christ came to prepare.
Here on earth we are prone to wish away things we don’t want to face. The noise in the car, the ache or pain we feel, the leaking roof – we deal with them by ignoring them until they can no longer be ignored. But not God. He does not focus on the joys and wish away the damage. He faces us for us.
His justice cries out to be satisfied. . . so He sends us His own Son as the Savior who satisfies the justice of God who demands that wrongs be punished. His wrath still burns against sin. . . so He sends us His own Son as the sacrificial offering to bear the full cost of our sin and the full fury of His anger over it. His will still seeks righteousness. . . so He sends us His own Son as the Righteous One who gives us His holiness to wear as our baptismal clothing.
We might wish to ignore the decay and be satisfied with the sweetness left in bruised fruit or bruised lives but God cannot. He faces all of this for us by sending His Son to bear the full burden for us and deliver to us salvation. This is what it means to say the Word was made flesh. . .
God is with us in our suffering. He cannot watch our pain without being wounded. He cannot but feel the hurt we feel. So He was moved to act. The Word that brought forth creation is now incarnate to rescue His lost creation. That is the Gospel of Christmas. God cannot watch us while we wear the pain of sin and death and He cannot ignore the reality of sin and death so He sends His own Son into our flesh to rescue us from it all.
Christ is Emmanuel – the Word made flesh to be with His lost creation, to seek us out in our shame, and to call us and carry us home to the Father. Christ is Emmanuel – the Word made flesh to save us by bearing the full weight of our sinful and lost condition – even to death upon the cross. Christ is Emmanuel – the Word made flesh to carry us home to our heavenly Father and to the future He has prepared for us.
We come at Christ not for a wonderful story or even for inspiration. We come to meet Him who wears our sin for us, who dies the death we should have died, and who leads us home to our heavenly Father again. He does it by coming as one of us.
Such a God cannot turn His back on all that He made. He showed us a glory far more profound that heaven’s mystery, that is the love that was made flesh for us and our salvation. Such a God has now invested too much in us to leave us to our own devices. The cost of salvation may be free to us but it cost our Lord everything in His incarnation, life, and death. Such a God has poured too much into our rescue to write us off.
Such a God does not stoop to giving us sweetness that still decays or let us settle for a bruised life that ends only in death. Such a God must fight to take back by force what sin stole from Him and the devil has now claimed as his – even if it means becoming flesh to save us. This is the Emmanuel we come to meet in the manger, in the cross, in the baptismal water, in the powerful voice of His Word, and in the bread and wine which is His flesh and blood for us and for the whole world.
Christmas peace is not imagined or imaginary, not an escape or dream, but the Word made flesh to rescue what was lost to God and to us. Blessed Christmas, my brothers and sisters in Christ. Amen.