Summary: Christmas is a time to celebrate the meaning and mystery of the Word becoming flesh and living among us.
Sermon for Christmas Eve, Yr B 2002
Based on Jn 1:14
Grace Lutheran Church, Medicine Hat
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
On this Holy Night, we gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is, among many things, an occasion to focus on the meaning and the mystery of Jesus being born of a woman and becoming a human being like us. It is a time to be lost in the wonder and awe of God becoming a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. In the words of John’s Gospel: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” Over the centuries, the theologians of the church have referred to Jesus becoming a human being like us as the doctrine of the Incarnation. This doctrine has always been somewhat controversial; because there have always been sceptics who have problems with God becoming a full-blooded human being like the rest of us.
Like so many other doctrines and issues in the life of the church; it’s been my observation that people are not convinced about the truth of the Incarnation by debating it; rather, if they are to be convinced, it is usually by listening to a story. This is the case because story is able to touch not only the mind and intellect but also the heart and soul of a person. So, I’m going to share with you, what I believe is one of the most beautiful stories about the Incarnation.
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once sought to describe the incarnation of God in Christ. He used this simple illustrative story:
A certain king was very rich. His power was known throughout the world. But he was most unhappy, for he desired a wife. Without a queen, the vast palace was empty.
One day, while riding through the streets of a small village, he saw a beautiful peasant girl. So lovely was she that the heart of the king was won. He wanted her more than anything he had ever desired. On succeeding days, he would ride by her house on the mere hope of seeing her for a moment in passing.
He wondered how he might win her love. He thought, I will draw up a royal decree and require her to be brought before me to become the queen of my land. But, as he considered, he realized that she was a subject and would be forced to obey. He could never be certain that he had won her love.
Then, he said to himself, “I shall call on her in person. I will dress in my finest royal garb, wear my diamond rings, my silver sword, my shiny black boots, an my most colorful tunic. I will overwhelm her and sweep her off her feet to become my bride.” But, as he pondered the idea, he knew that he would always wonder whether she had married him for the riches and power he could give her.
Then, he decided to dress as a peasant, drive to the town, and have his carriage let him off. In disguise, he would approach her house. But, somehow the duplicity of this plan did not appeal to him.
At last, he knew what he must do. He would shed his royal robes. He would go to the village and become one of the peasants. He would work and suffer with them. He would actually become a peasant. This he did. And he won his wife.
So did God consider how He might win humankind. God in Christ became one of us. He took upon Him the form of human flesh to dwell among us.1
Jesus, God Incarnate, the Word became flesh and lived among us; Jesus pitched his tent among us. The very God who created the universe humbled himself by willingly being born a tiny baby in a manger and living as one of us, with all of our limitations. He did it out of sheer love for us all. To become like us, to become one of us and live among us as the king did among the peasants in Kierkegaard’s story; is the best, most effective way to get our attention; to reach us and convince us of his love for us.
In today’s world, support groups of all kinds have become very popular. There are support groups for almost everything and everyone under the sun. There are support groups for: widows and widowers mourning the loss of their spouse, alcoholics, spouses and children of alcoholics, those who struggle with other addictions to things like food, drugs, work, you name it, there’s a support group somewhere for it. Why are these support groups so important anyways? Well, primarily because the only person who is able to really reach an alcoholic is another alcoholic; they know the struggles firsthand, and can offer support that others cannot.