Summary: This sermon talks about the incarnation of Christ and it as God’s move of intimacy toward the world.
This is the season to use T. S. Eliot’s masterful phrase about the Incarnation: "the intersection of the timeless with time."
Before it was Eliot’s, that way of looking at the birth of Jesus into human form was captured by John:
John 1:1-4, 14, 16-18: 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…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. And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
In one of the latest (good for at least a month or two) new editions of Webster’s Dictionary, yet another pop-culture term has been credentialized: bling-bling. Bling-bling, for those of you who don’t have teenagers or aren’t pop-music stars, refers to big, gaudy, bright baubles with which one decorates oneself and one’s life. Huge chunky gold jewelry, over-sized and obviously fake gems, sequins, lame, rhinestone-encrusted, over-the-top glitz of all kinds, qualify as bling-bling. Bling-bling exists for one reason and one reason only: to be noticed.
1 entry found for bling-bling.
Main Entry: bling-bling
Definition: expensive, esp. showy or vulgar jewelry or clothing
Example: The rapper wore his bling-bling jewelry to the party.
Etymology: from hip-hop vocabulary; imitative of the light reflected off such jewelry
Source: Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.5)
Copyright © 2003, 2004 Lexico Publishing Group, LLC
What John is trying to communicate is that Christmas is not just about a humble birth, but also about a magnificent departure. Jesus had everything, and became nothing...for us.
Max Lucado says, "2000 years ago, the all powerful God, the one who specialized in taking that which is common and making it spectacular, the all powerful God who took a rod and parted the sea, the all powerful God who took a pebble and killed a giant, the all powerful God who spoke the universe into existence, said to his angels, " It’s time for me to show them my love, and in order to show my love, I’m going to have to set aside my power."
Such is the case with Christmas. John 1 records the truth…that God became flesh and dwelt among us. We must ask, “Why?”
John lets us know. Jesus is the fullness of God, and through Him, we all have received, “Grace upon Grace.” The reason that Christ came into the world is because of God’s love for us. The child in the manger is the means whereby God’s love is presented to the people whom he loves.
The birth of Jesus is many things: it is a miracle, it is a mystery, it is word of justice, it is truth, it is the sign of hope. It is all of that, but much more than that too. It is the gift of God for the people of God.
Yet, there are some who have a tough time receiving gifts from God, and so the implications of the manger never soak through into the heart. For some, the gift of the manger is handled like a spoiled child who takes an enormously expensive gift and doesn’t say thank you. In fact, they pick it up, and run outside…scarcely noticing grandma standing there with her arms open ready to embrace the child she loves so dearly.
As a Christmas gift invites us to be thankful, so does the gift of Christ. The manger is an invitation. It is an invitation to relationship. It is an invitation to walk with the God who walked among us. The manger is a call to worship that, rightly understood, shows God’s desire to be close to us, and invites us to be close to Him…and not just at Christmas time or Easter time…at all times.
On a small Nevada mountain is a huge timepiece: The Clock of the Long Now. It ticks once a year, chimes once a century, and once every 10,000 years a cuckoo will come out. (Preaching Plus)
That isn’t the type of faith that the manger calls us to. Long Now faith isn’t what Jesus had in mind when he came to earth.
Jesus is the grace of God for the people of God. He is the full expression of God’s love for us. No metaphor is adequate to describe what God does for us through the sending of Jesus into the world. So, instead, let’s think of gifts in a different way this morning.