Grace, mercy, and peace to you on this blessed Christmas
morn. Brothers and sisters, the text for this morning comes from the Gospel
Welcome home and merry Christmas to you all. Though many of
you may not live in this town or attend this parish regularly, this is home for
us as fellow believers in Christ. Knit together in the one communion of which
we confess in that creed, the one holy Christian and apostolic church. Blessed
among men and women are you for you have heard God’s good news of Christ coming
for you. And you have not just heard this once, but throughout your lifetime
you have heard this good news for you.
Blessed are you for you are counted among those who would
stand to inherit eternal life and are not among those condemned who do not
believe, those of whom John wrote in his holy Gospel, those who are not a part
of the one holy Christian and apostolic church, ones who do not believe that
God became flesh for us, truly they are not blessed like you. You have all
things in your hands and in your hearts. You have been given eternal paradise.
Blessed indeed are you.
But if we are so blessed, why is it that we struggle within
our very hearts and souls with ourselves? Being so blessed should not mean that
there should be such a battle raging within us at times. At other times, quiet
and calm and smooth waters, and at other times raging and chaotic. It ought not
be for God’s blessed and holy children, and yet it is, isn’t it, more than we
wish to admit.
That is why it is good to have you home among the saints
redeemed as you, broken and wounded, yet bound up and healed in this place
which is your home. Make no mistake about it; this is the hospital that soothes
your soul and only here.
We live among many people and work among many people who do
not believe that we were created in the image of God—Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit—who loved His creatures so much that He wished to make them in His
image, like Himself, holy, joy-filled, peace-filled, and without spot, stain,
Mothers who look upon their flesh of their flesh born to
them and laid in their arms, slimy and slippery as they are when they come
forth from the womb, see nothing but beauty and handsomeness in the face of
their child. How much more did your Creator look upon you with that same joy
and peace? But because of the war that rages within you and me, of which you
know and I know, of which you have seen and touched and tasted more than you
wish to admit, as I have seen, touched, and tasted more than I admit, how can a
Creator look upon us,His children,with such great love and compassion?
We who are fearful of Him and what He thinks at times and at
other times boldly and brazenly move forward without a care of what God
thinks. When God enfleshed Himself in Jesus and joined Himself to our humanity
did He redeem the death in which we were born and bring us back out of darkness
into light. Light which is the symbol of all around you, as it was last night
with the candles that we had in our hands, reminding us that light has come
into this world of darkness, and yet the world has not understood it, as John
said. If so, then our doors would be overfilled with people coming in to sit
down and hear again.
Blessed indeed are you above all men and women for you have
believed and you are God’s children.
Phillip, one of God’s chosen twelve apostles, recorded in
the same Gospel of John, asked Jesus, “Just show us the Father. That’ll be
enough for us. Show us the Father that we may know You are with us, Father.”
And right before their very eyes is God in the flesh who
said to them, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. I and the Father are
The prophets in Heaven, if they could cry out in sorrow and
sadness in their heavenly bliss, would cry out that these people among whom we
live and dwell and that our own flesh with which we struggle, if they could see
what we see, the prophets of old would shout out, “God be praised. We had to
live with every kernel and crumb that came from God’s revelations to us over hundreds
and thousands of years to bring this to you, and now it’s been fulfilled in
your very sight. Seen and witnessed by those twelve apostles, by five hundred
of the brothers, by Paul and others who witnessed Christ being born and dying
and rising again for this entire humanity who once bore the image of its
In the world in which you and I are a part, there is a cry
for realness, a cry for sincerity. “Show me Jesus. I wish to be in a
relationship with Him.” Blessed are you for you have been knit into a
relationship with your Jesus stronger than you care to acknowledge or realize
for it is not knit by your disciplined life nor by your prayers and devotion,
but by God’s eternal love. And being knit into such a relationship, He would
not hide Himself but reveal Himself fully.
As redeemed saints, it was your call, your word of
affirmation that said, “Be our pastor. Be our pastor, you who are but a sinful
man. Be the one who reveals to us Christ in your preached Word.” In hearing
that preached Word, you have seen Jesus, as clearly as Phillip on that day when
he asked, “Show us the Father,” and Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen
“Show us our relationship with Jesus,” and your pastors have
said, “You are God’s child.” In hearing and believing those words, you are
seeing Jesus before your very eyes.
There was a woman who followed after Christ who had a
discharge of blood for years and said to herself, If only I touch His
garment, then I shall be healed.
You have touched Christ. Each time you have heard that word
proclaimed and come up to this altar believing, and sinful men whom you have
called lay in your hands Christ’s flesh, you have touched Christ more than that
woman, because you touched completely, totally by faith and not by sight. And
when you lay that in your mouth and drink that blood with the wine, you drink
and eat Christ. Just as those twelve who were gathered around Him on the night
in which He was betrayed, when He said, “This is my body. This is my blood.”
Blessed are you. Blessed are you among men and women, for
you have seen, you have touched, and you have tasted your Lord, of which angels
and prophets and apostles of old looked forward to and saw its completion and
bore witness to you. And now you who live in a world who did not receive the
Creator born for them, you now have been given that responsibility.
You believe you have seen, tasted, and touched your Lord.
It is to be believed by faith and to be heard through the Word preached and
proclaimed. And you have been blessed to give that to other people who are
hurting, and you can see their pain and you know their agony. And they are won
over not by convincing proofs and arguments but by loving them with what you
have been given, having seen your Lord and having touched His garment and
having eaten and drank Him who has bound Himself and knit Himself to you.
Welcome home, brothers and sisters, and blessed are you
among men and women for you will inherit eternal life and you have the gift
that gives to others that same eternal life.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.