Summary: The Apostles’ Creed has been Christianity’s statement of faith for 1,600 years. What do we mean when we say that we believe in Jesus born of a virgin, and how does this impact our lives today?
Philippians 2:5-11 “I Believe in Jesus Christ, Born of the Virgin Mary”
The news of Katrina and the effects of this hurricane on the Gulf Coast has grab the headlines and made the other news items appear insignificant. I did want to remind you of an announcement that I recently heard that there were only four shopping months until Christmas. By the end of this month, Christmas trees will once again decorate all of our local shopping malls.
Christmas will soon be upon us, but the manger scenes that will soon be decorating our homes and places of business do not convey the totality and cost of what Jesus did. God in the person of Jesus Christ became one of us.
All religions work from the perspective that there is a gap between God and the people of God. Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Christians all seek to bridge the distance and bring humankind and God together. The Buddhists seek to achieve this by distancing themselves from the world. The Muslims try to overcome the gap through obedience to the Koran, and the Jews through the observance of tradition and the law.
All of these attempts are centered on humankind’s efforts. Only Christianity proclaims the truth that in the person of Jesus Christ God was bridging the gap between himself and humans.
Jesus Christ did what we can’t do. God, the steadfast lover of humankind, who craves a relationship with his creation took on human form and became one of us for the sole purpose of demonstrating God’s love for us and establishing a relationship between God and humankind.
Love drove God to get down and dirty.
In Mark Twain’s novel, “The Prince and the Pauper,” a young prince dresses like his subjects and lives with them for a time. The actions of the prince in this story are really an act of rebellion. He was fed up with the expectations placed upon him. He wanted freedom and anonymity.
Jesus’ actions were not those of rebellion, but rather the actions of obedience. Jesus was obedient in his service of those around him. He healed the sick, drove out demons, made the lame to walk and the blind to see. Wherever he went he announced that the kingdom of God was near and that men and women should repent and be baptized. The actions of Jesus alienated him from the religious and political authorities. They crucified him and out of obedience Jesus allow himself to be crucified.
The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane is a poignant and powerful picture of obedience. Wrestling with God’s will and its consequences Jesus eventually yields and prays, “Not my will, but your will be done.”
LIFE OF GRACE AND SERVICE
Because of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross, we no longer have to attempt to bridge the gap between God and ourselves. It has already been done. But, Jesus did not die on the cross so that we can go our merry old way and do “our own thing,” whatever that may be. Luther writes in his explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed, that Jesus has done all of this so that we can, “Be his own and live under him in his Kingdom and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.”
We live in grace because we do not need to attain, all we are capable of doing is receiving.
Living in grace, we no longer are enthralled with being seen as righteous and holy, rather we are focused on doing the right, obedient thing.
Responding to God’s love and receiving the new life that is ours in Christ Jesus, we live new, abundant lives in obedience to the guidance and movement of the Spirit in our lives, and in service to the people around us.
John writes in his gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son.” God’s gift transforms our lives and the world in which we live.