Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on this blessed day of His birth. Amen.
Do you remember your first Christmas? Well of course you don’t, but your parents, by golly…your parents sure do remember your first Christmas, for they saw in you the wonder of a child’s eye and that enthralled them. I mean, of course, you were their son or daughter and they already fell in love with you at first sight, but to see the wonder of this world in your eyes as their son or daughter…wow. Only a parent knows that and it is an amazing thing to witness.
But this morning’s text brings wonder to your and my eyes of faith…not our physical eyes, mind you, but our eyes of faith, that see the world in a different way than how we see children viewing the ornaments and the wonder of candles and the smell of incense and beautiful smells of pies and wonderful meal to eat.
You may ask, “Well now how is this different?” Behold an infant. When you held your son or daughter in your arms, that baby, you realized, is frail, and it is going to need everything in its life from you. That is a remarkable revelation to us as parents, to see in that child complete and utter dependence, complete and utter frailty. You as parent are the one to provide for all of that.
Behold yet this infant, whose birth we celebrate today. God says in that infant is His holy right arm bared for the nations to see salvation comes from this frail infant, utterly dependent upon Mary and Joseph. That is wonder indeed to the eyes of faith.
Behold an infant. When you looked at your son or daughter, you began to see in them complete lack of understanding of what their reality really is. Oh, they had a reality. It was, If I cry, I will be fed. If I cry, I will have my diapers changed. If I cry, they will come to my beckon call, but you could see in that son or daughter the complete lack of concept of what their reality is all about.
Yet this infant, born for us in this manger, is eternal. This infant (who, too, must cry for Mary to feed; who, too, must let them know about dirty diapers) rules the universe and bestows life to the very woman who brings life to Him, who gives and animates everything about Joseph, who will be the Provider for him. Wonder indeed! Wonder indeed at this infant.
Probably the most shocking and unnerving about seeing an infant is seeing an infant die. It unnerves us. It causes us to completely crumble inside. It’s not what our mind expects to happen in the normal and natural progression of life and time and all that goes along with this reality we are so accustomed to.
Yet this infant, frail and dependent, seemingly unaware of any of His surroundings, will live for someone like you and me and will die for someone like you and me, and will rise again for someone like you and me, to bring us life. The very life about which John wrote, the Light of man, is this life that Christ brings. We who wear death see life enfleshed. Wonder and amazed indeed are we at such a life.
It was our first parents, Adam and Eve, who wore death. They thought they should wear death first to cover themselves with dead fig leaves, but that kind of death was not God’s choosing. It was their choosing. Isn’t it in your and my life, choices we make, different than what God intends? It seems logical and wise in our own mind’s eye, but it is not in line with God’s will for us. It is not a part of His plan for us.
So Adam and Eve, our first parents, had to wear death, but it was death of God’s choosing, not of their choosing. It was an animal He sacrificed for them, that He may have skins to clothe them, that they would wear death of a sacrifice. Picturing the very promise we heard yesterday evening, the offspring of the woman, the seed of the woman, shall crush his head. Wonder indeed.
Do you know what’s more remarkable about Adam and Eve? We have a lot in common with them. You see, we think, sometimes, if we’re insulated from some of the tragedies of life, and yet, Adam and Eve, who knew no tragedy ever in their lives, were the first parents ever to bury a child. That’s remarkable. Few of us have had to do that. Those of us who have are forever, at least in this life, scarred. We will go to the grave with that scar and it will be removed from us on our resurrection, but we live with it. We live with it in the same way as Adam and Eve lived with it, trusting in that promise.
When they buried the lifeless body of their beloved Abel, they could see their own sin enfleshed in that dead, lifeless form they laid in the ground, from which they themselves came. In seeing in that lifeless body they laid in the ground from whence they came, they could still, at the selfsame time, believe and trust in that promise that the offspring of the woman would crush the head of Satan, the one who brought such death into the world. Wonder indeed. They would explain to their beloved children, even before their son killed their other son, why they wear animal skins.
Sadly, very sadly, most of the people in this world do not see reality the way you and I see reality. Most of the people in this world view reality covered with their own coverings, made-up romantic stories to help them through their difficult times and to comfort them in their own wisdom during good times, but not you. Your life bears the same scars as Adam and Eve and your life bears the same covering as Adam and Eve, the covering found in the infant whose righteousness you wear, not of your choosing, but of His choosing for you. Great indeed and wonder-filled is this infant.
We are the children of God, even though in the midst of our lives, we have faced the very things our first parents faced, the reality of our own sin and the reality of living in a sin-filled world…probably where most of our scars come from, the reality of being joined and knit together with other sinners. The first family was not bereft of what you and I experience. They themselves knew and tasted death, but they themselves knew and tasted life, the life that would come, not for a near time, but for thousands of years in the future, but was given to them in that promise.
For us, we look back to this great day, the day of the birth of this life that came into the world. The Light of man found itself in that life, and it is this life that shields us and protects us from all the world wishes to bombard us with, its own propaganda. The world? For that matter, our own reason and senses bombard us. We ruminate before we go to sleep and think about things and ponder, keeping us awake at night. It is our Lord’s life that prevents us from succumbing to that siren’s cry.
We wear the righteousness of Christ. We wear the infant’s flesh. We eat the infant’s flesh. It’s planted in our ears and it grows in our hearts in the midst of all we see and experience. We are the children of God, born of His will, not born of our own, of our parents or anything else…born of His will. What a sight! Adam and Eve, who had never experienced death, decay, sat and watched it, watched it in the plants, watched it in the soil, witnessed it in their own child, and still believed.
You bear that life. You have that solidarity with Adam and Eve, but more importantly, you have been knit together with the infant who knew all of this and more for you, that you might be set free. The offshoot of Jesse, the One who created the world and you in your mother’s womb, the One who redeemed you from this world and abyss of hell and more importantly, the One who keeps you in the midst of tragedy and triumph, the life of the world, the Word made flesh, the infant’s birth we celebrate…Jesus. In His holy name. Amen.