25 December 2015

Life with God in the Flesh of His Word

Beloved of the Lord, Christ Jesus is your Savior, not only by what He does for you, but because of Who He Is: the Son of God in the Flesh.  For salvation involves not only being rescued from danger, death, and damnation through the forgiveness of your sins, but also being brought into the safety and security of eternal Life and Light in the presence of the Holy Trinity.  Indeed, such Life and Light do not merely come from God; they are of God Himself, and in Him alone forever.

It was for the sake of His own divine and holy Love that God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, created all things, in order to share His Life and Love with others outside of Himself, that is, with His own creatures, by His grace alone.  In creating all things out of nothing by His Word, God the Lord was giving Himself, His Life and His Light, to those whom He created.  In particular, it was in Love that He shared Himself, and nothing less than Himself, with those whom He created in His own Image and Likeness — of which Christ Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, is the Archetype.

To be created in the Image of God is ever and always to share the Image of the Word-made-Flesh, St. Mary’s Son, who is both God and Man.  For it was always God’s intention that He should fill His Creation with His own divine Life, that is, with Himself, by becoming part of His Creation.

Hence the Lord’s friendship and communion with Adam & Eve, the Man and the Woman, the King and the Queen of His Creation, in the Garden prior to the Fall into sin.  From the beginning, such communion or fellowship with God has resided in the Person of His Word, the beloved Son who would in the fullness of time become flesh and dwell among us in the Person of Christ Jesus.  It is for His sake that the Father created you and all creatures, and for His sake that He saves you.

Now, to be sure, the Fall into sin broke the harmonious relationship between God and man, and it made fellowship with God impossible for the children of men until there should be atonement for sin and reconciliation.  Thus, for example, from your conception and birth, you were at enmity with God and separated from Him by your sin.  And that is not to speak primarily of all the naughty things that you have done, nor of all the good that you have neglected to do, but of your failure and inability to fear, love, and trust in God, and your lack of faith in His Word.

By such sin in the very heart of you, God Himself and His Life and Light and Love are rejected, and you cut yourself off from the fellowship with God for which you were created.

There is every cause for great rejoicing on this Holy Day and in this sacred Season, therefore, because the Son of God, your Savior Jesus Christ, has become flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood.  He has come to redeem you from sin and death and to reconcile you and all the world to His God and Father.  Indeed, He has done so by His voluntary suffering and death upon the Cross, and God and man are reconciled forever in the Resurrection of His Body from the dead.

Not only has He rescued you and all the children of men from your predicament of sin and death.  By His Holy Incarnation, the Son of God has also accomplished within Himself — in the unity of His own divine Person — the perfect and permanent communion of God and Man.  For the Lord your God has taken flesh and blood and your entire human nature to be His very own, in which He entered into the depths of your darkness and has been raised and glorified in the heavenly places.

Your salvation, therefore, and your deliverance from sin, death, the devil, and hell, do not involve an escape from your life in the body, nor from the world of flesh and blood into which you have been conceived and born.  Rather, in Christ Jesus your body is redeemed along with your soul, your soul with your body, and your flesh and blood are sanctified for a bodily Life with God.  For the Body of Christ Jesus, conceived and born of St. Mary, crucified under Pontius Pilate, and risen from the dead in divine glory, is the First Fruits of the New Creation, in which the very-goodness of the original Creation has not only been restored, but fulfilled, exceeded, and perfected.

The Lord your God has spoken His Word into the Flesh, and the Word of God is henceforth never without His own Flesh.  In holy Love, the Father speaks to you now and forever by His incarnate Son, who is the Light of the world and the Life of man.  His Body of flesh and blood is the Light that shines for you in the darkness, so that you behold the Father in Him and live with God in Him.  Indeed, your communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is in the Body of Christ Jesus.

As there simply is no Life or Light at all apart from the Word of God — for all things are made through Him, and without Him there is nothing — so there is no communion or fellowship with God apart from His Word-made-Flesh, which is Christ the Lord, your Savior born of St. Mary.

Everything has been accomplished and established, once and for all, forever and ever, in Him.  That is to say, both the rescue from sin, death, and hell, and the permanent safety and security of life and salvation with God, are found in Him.

So it is that your rescue and redemption, your safety and salvation — that perfect Light and divine Life and holy Love for which you have been created by God — become yours and remain yours, only insofar as you are united with Christ Jesus in body and soul by grace through faith in Him.

Thus, because He loves you and desires your salvation, He comes to you and calls you to Himself by the ways and means of His Word.  By and with the preaching of His Gospel, both Christ and His Holy Spirit are actively present and at work to lay Christ Himself upon your heart and mind, to justify you with His righteousness, and to sanctify you with His holiness.

From the very beginning, and after the Fall into sin, it has ever and always been so.  God speaks to give life by His Son.  By the Law and the Prophets, the Old Testament was preparing for and leading to the New Testament in the Body and Blood of Christ.  And then St. John the Baptist came, a man sent by God to preach and to baptize, that all might believe in Christ Jesus, the Light of the world.  So, too, the holy Apostles and Evangelists, and the ministers of Christ to this day.

As in the case of St. John, and so to the close of the age, the preaching of the Word goes hand in hand with the washing of the water with the Word in Holy Baptism.  Crucified and raised with Christ in those waters, you are born again as a child of God in Him.  And this new birth of Holy Baptism parallels the miraculous conception and birth of the Lord Jesus Himself.  For as He was conceived and born of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so are you also conceived and born anew in Him — in each case by His Word and Holy Spirit, and not by any will or cooperation of man.

In particular, in Holy Baptism you are united with Christ Jesus in His Cross & Resurrection, and thereby brought into the fellowship of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Having thus entered into fellowship with God in Christ through Holy Baptism, you are granted the privilege of feasting upon Him — of eating His holy Body and drinking His precious Blood — in the Holy Communion of His Altar.  So does He live and abide in you.  He tabernacles with you in the flesh, both His and yours, so that you also live and abide in Him, both body and soul.  And by such communion with the Son of God, your fellowship is also with His Father and the Holy Spirit.  That is not simply a means to some other end.  It is your life and salvation with God in Christ.

As the almighty and eternal Word of God sounded in the ear of the Blessed Virgin Mary and was thereby conceived and made flesh-of-her-flesh within her womb, so does the same Word of God — whom you have heard in this Holy Gospel — continue to give Himself in the flesh, for you and for the many, by and through and with His Word of the New Testament in this Holy Sacrament.

So does the Mystery of the Incarnation — the profound “Sacrament” of the Word-made-Flesh — continue for you at this Altar in this place.  And here, in this Sacrament of His Body and Blood, the Holy Triune God is revealed to you.  Indeed, the Maker of the heavens and the earth gives Himself to you in the flesh of Christ, and in His Body you share His Life and Light and Salvation.

As He created all things out of nothing with the first “in the beginning,” solely by His grace and power (which are the grace and power of His Word), so does He make a new “in the beginning” for you — out of your nothingness — by and with His Word-made-Flesh.  And, behold, this Word of the Living God declares concerning you and your life in Him, that “It is very good!”  To which there is nothing for you to do, but simply to receive it freely in faith and with thanksgiving.

That, dear friend, is what the ChristMass truly is, and what “Christmas” is all about.  Not only on this day, nor only for the next few weeks, but all year long and always.  Oh, come, let us adore Him!  Let us worship and bow down before the Lord our Maker, who is Jesus Christ our Savior!

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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