Let us pray: Dear Savior, on this glorious day of Your birth, we’re eternally thankful that You came to us for all to see! You came with grace and truth, wrapped in human flesh like ours. You came as a Baby so that we could see You, hold You, and interact with You. Because of all that we don’t have to wonder what You’re all about, we know. And that knowing is glorious! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE BLESSED CHRIST CHILD, GOD’S WORD MADE FLESH!
TEXT: Titus 3: 4-7 and John 1
Dearly Beloved In the Blessed Christ Child:
“You need to put a human face on that.” News rooms across the world echo those words every day. People relate to people, not amorphous concepts. So, if you’re going to do a story about Christmas giving, you find a little child who needs a wheelchair and the kind soul that provided it for them. Then giving from the heart becomes alive because people can see it and relate to it.
Humans have always done this. Think back on history. During the French Revolution people were striving for Freedom. So they personified such freedom in the form of: “Lady Liberty”—which comes down to us as the Statue of Liberty. Likewise, to get across the concept of Justice to the common man, Lady Justice was born with her blindfold and balance scale. The fact is: it’s hard to convey to people an idealized truth unless it has some sort of form we can relate to. We know that as creatures, and God knew that as our Creator.
God doesn’t have flesh and blood like we do. He doesn’t have a human face and isn’t confined to a human body. He’s pure Light, pure Love, pure Truth, and pure Holiness. As Scripture says: “God fills all things.” He’s beyond mere human comprehension. So, how did God translate His reality, His being, into our reality? You know the answer—Christmas!
“But when the grace and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” This is a parallel passage to John 1 where we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt for a while among us.” The Word is another name for God’s eternal Son, Jesus Christ, the 2nd person of the Trinity. This Word is eternal, without beginning or end. This Word is perfect, holy, pure, and all powerful. We humans hear the words about God and about Christ, but because they have no face they just don’t seem real to us. So, God Almighty put a face on them. And that face appeared in the form of a little Baby, wrapped up in the manger. Yes, in Christ God did the humanly impossible. He contained His infinite reality in finite flesh. He wrapped up all the truths of God and the entire universe in the confines of that little Baby, our Savior! Amazing!
St. Paul writes to young pastor Titus that: “But when the grace and love of God, our Savior appeared….” Grace is God’s undeserved love. Paul alludes to that fact when he adds: “he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” In order for us to begin to take all that in, God decided to put a real, human face upon His undeserved love. That face, that reality, is the Christ Child. So, when the shepherds, wise men, Mary and Joseph looked into the manger and saw Christ; when the disciples watched Him perform miracles and later fall asleep at night; when Pilate looked Him in the eye and pronounced the sentence of death; when the frenzied crowd jeered at Him hanging on the cross; and when the women beheld His resurrected body—they all stared grace directly in the face! Whether they knew it or not, God’s grace for them wasn’t an indistinct ideal, it was real. It had defined features.
And the purpose of this grace, which was born that first Christmas? The purpose of the Word made flesh is laid out for us by Paul this way: “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Jesus Christ was and is real. He ate and drank, walked and talked, lived and died and rose again from the dead. People interacted with Him every day of His life. They interacted with the eternal Son of God. Since Jesus is also, “the grace and love of God who has appeared” that means those same people ate and drank, walked and talked, and lived directly with God’s grace. Christ and grace are synonymous. So, when you and I hear the Christmas story, bask in our baptism, commune on Christ’s true Body and Blood in the holy supper, we also walk, talk, eat and drink with grace! Those “means of grace” are the face He has put on His reality among us today!
And what’s the purpose of all this?–“To save us.” Our reality is death, but God’s reality is life. And through Christ, Grace alone, God gives us life and makes us part of His reality. Yes, it is through grace and because of it that the Holy Spirit is sent to work saving faith in our hearts. Again, as Paul says elsewhere: “Faith is a gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.” And so, it is by grace alone and faith alone which stem from the Word (Christ) alone that we are made those heirs of eternal life that Paul speaks of here.
All truly memorable Christmas presents are hidden in wrappings which lead to mysterious speculation and then are revealed amid joy and wonder. Well, today behold the most mysterious and most wonderful of all presents: The Baby Jesus, who is full of: grace and truth! And if that’s not totally amazing, this is: “For unto YOU is born this day in the town of David, a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord!” Amen