Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston & Mount Ayr, Iowa;
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1–14, ESV)
(From a devotion by Ed Grimenstein)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It is Christmas morning. From last night to today we have gone from the dark candlelight of Christmas Eve celebrating the newborn babe in the manger, to the brightness of Christmas morning. Last night we stood around the manger in awe that to you a child is born who is Christ the Lord. Born in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. This morning we are left to ponder what it means that God the Word who created all things has become flesh to dwell among us.
How is it exactly a word becomes flesh, anyway? We don’t usually think of words as physical things. We think of them as ideas or symbols. A word is something that is said, it forms on the lips and the tongue and is projected through the air. It is heard by other people and interpreted. It isn’t something hard and fleshly, but ideas and thoughts. And yet here John’s Gospel says that The Word becomes flesh. And it says that this Word was the author of creation and life. God spoke the universe into existence by the power of this Word. And this Word is now a baby lying in a manger.
I think the text from Hebrews this morning helps fill in what’s going on. Listen again:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV)
The Word that created the world is the 2nd person of the Trinity, the Son, Jesus Christ born in the flesh in the manger. Long ago, and bit by bit (a more literal translation), God spoke to people through his prophets. But the relationship was one of distance and separation. He spoke of his promises to remove the distance and separation, to set right again everything that was broken by sin. God didn’t want to speak in a long distance relationship forever. He wants to be very close to his creation and his creatures. He doesn’t want his words just floating in the air. So God became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s Word actually walks on the ground, touches the sick, opens blind eyes, weeps at death, and speaks life back into dead friends. The Word become flesh speaks a final word at the cross, “It is finished!” The Word become flesh also becomes sin.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)
Jesus on the cross is God’s Word of promise fulfilled. God’s sacrifice for sinners. God speaking forgiveness into human sin. God didn’t just become flesh to be close and have a conversation over coffee. He became flesh, one of us, so that he could pay for our sins through his death on the cross and restore our relationship to God.
And the Word become flesh is still present here with us. The Word made flesh is presented every time we gather in his name and hear the Bible read. He is present every day as his baptized children live out their calling in the world according to the Word of God. He is present as he speaks the wonderful Good News of forgiveness of sins through a simple, sinful pastor. Jesus is still coming to you to heal, and to forgive, just as he came in the Bible. Jesus wants to be near you, not just words in your ear, but in your heart and life, as you live every day holding on the promises God has made to you in Holy Baptism.
God’s Word becomes flesh every time a pastor speaks the wonderful word of release to you, the forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus on the cross. God’s Word becomes flesh every time water is splashed on a sinners head and he becomes God’s own child, given God’s very name. The Word becomes flesh every time a believer receives forgiveness through the very physical body and blood of Jesus, in, with and under the bread and wine in Jesus’ supper. And God’s Word becomes flesh as Christians faithfully live out their vocations every day. Bakers baking bread, teachers teaching, farmers farming, parents parenting, and grandparents spoiling their grandchildren.
Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. He is touchable, God with us, Immanuel. He comes to us in Word and Sacrament, he comes to us and through us to the world to tell the good news of the love of God and the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.