Summary: The Incarnation divided history and continues to impact everything. This sermon touches on how Jesus is the highest, greatest, most beautiful gift even given.
Homily for The Feast
As we start I’m going to ask ____________ to read a passage from the Bible. Please listen closely. Listen closely for signs of Christmas in the reading. [John 1:1-4, 14]
So...who noticed a sign of Christmas? [The Word became flesh, His glory revealed as the son of God]
We live in a secular culture that is not much interested in the actual meaning and value of Christmas. Most of us are over-familiar with Santa and with being pressured to buy, buy, buy...stuff at Christmas, as if giving and receiving stuff was the point of Christmas. But it’s not.
The actual point of celebrating Christmas is to remember; to remember something incredibly important and something incredibly beautiful.
Nobody actually knows exactly what day of the year Jesus Christ was born, but the early Christians were enterprising. They knew that the winter solstice, a big celebration that helped offset the hardships of winter, was celebrated on or around December 25. So, they figured, December 25 was as good a date as any to place Jesus’ birth. And so the celebration of the birth of the Son of God was pinned on that date.
What matters, though is not the date. What matters is that something wonderful happened that changed the course of human history. You might be thinking to yourself - Hang on...I haven’t been impacted in the slightest by the birth of Jesus. I could care less!
Well, in small ways and big ways, I’m here to tell you - you have been impacted by the incarnation of Jesus, by the historical reality of the birth of God-in-the-flesh. First of all,
think of the year of your birth. Mine is 1962. Do you know why your birth year is the number that it is? It’s because it’s precisely the number counted from the year that Jesus was thought to have been born.
I was born 1962 years after the year commonly accepted for Jesus birth. You have your own number of years - but what that number of years represents is the number of years since the Saviour of humankind was born into this world.
Jesus literally divided history between what we call BC and AD, “Before Christ” and Anno Domini (Year of Our Lord). No one else in human history has done anything like that. Now that’s really just a small thing though.
Another on is that, actually, if Jesus hadn’t been born, you would be here right now. That’s because this building wouldn’t be here. That’s because Yonge Street Mission wouldn’t be here. If you’ve been part of other ministries at the mission - Thursday night New Hope Fellowship, Employment, the Food Bank, the Church, Evergreen, Genesis Place - you name it - none of that would have happened without the birth of Jesus.
Because you see, the birth of Jesus made possible the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. And Yonge Street Mission was started by people who were passionately grateful for being set free by Jesus’ death and resurrection; and who wanted to positively impact the lives of people out of that gratitude. It’s still run by people just like that.
So at the very least, you would not have enjoyed a nice meal in a warm place tonight. But of course it goes much deeper than that.
The Bible says: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. That means, to cut out a lot of detail, that God, the Creator of Everything in the universe, including the universe, put on flesh and pitched his tent among us. Now it wasn’t yesterday, and it wasn’t in Toronto. But it was on planet earth, and it happened in real time. He was born among us, just as the Bible says.
And this happened for a reason. It wasn’t so that we could buy and sell stuff, give and receive gifts on the day we use to mark His birth, Christmas. It wasn’t about commerce or commercialism or money or any other false idol.
You know that whatever consumes our time and energy, whatever we put our hope into, whatever we live for can be thought of as an idol. Is it your career? Is it entertainment? Is it a person? Is it money? Is it always trying to get more money? That thing that we focus our heart and devotion and energy on, always promises us the world, cost us EVERYTHING - and delivers nothing.
Idols take from us and give nothing in return while promising us the moon. Jesus came to earth - the Incarnation really happened - so that you and I could choose to receive the ultimate gift from God, the most valuable, irreplaceable, beautiful gift ever imagined let alone given. Jesus, God in the Flesh is the only One who promises us EVERYTHING that matters and it costs us nothing. It cost Him everything - His very lifeblood. But it is offered as a gift.