Summary: The Christ Child stimulates a lot of controversy. What role do the followers of Jesus play in opening hearts to the gospel?
Sermon for CATM – Advent 4 – December 20, 2009 – One Dangerous Baby
Let’s all stand to read today’s Advent Scripture reading. [Luke 2:1-20]
It’s funny the responses that people have to Christmas, to the story of the birth of Christ. My wife Barbara was telling me the other night that at her school there’s a committee made up of teachers that put together a “Days of Significance” program for the school announcements.
So during the school announcements first thing in the morning, they make mention of the diverse cultural celebrations including the special days of different religions.
So they mention all the Muslim and Sikh and Wiccan and other holidays, with a good amount of detail as to the religious significance of each holiday.
The one thing the committee refuses to do is say anything about the Christian faith. So they speak of Christmas in only its secular and non-Christian expressions.
There is one Muslim woman on the committee who is really very open to representing all religions equally and likely scratches her head at this blatant exclusion of the Christian faith tradition from the “Days of Significance” at the school.
The two other teachers on the committee are adamant that the Christian faith be excluded because they feel it is overexposed, and essentially bad.
Funny response people have to Christmas, and to Christian faith. But you know, Jesus has always stimulated controversy, has always offended people’s ideas about God and has always evoked strong or strange responses.
In this situation I’ve just described, the people controlling what school children learn and think are reacting a very gut level because, despite all they may have heard about Jesus and His teachings, they dislike Christian faith and feel it their duty to keep children ignorant about it, thinking they are doing everyone a service.
Now, you wouldn’t think a baby could cause so much controversy. You wouldn’t think a helpless infant would raise the ire of people.
You wouldn’t think that people would work so hard to keep hidden the knowledge of just Who it as who lay there in the manger 2000 years ago. What would be the point of keeping this all under wraps?
A moment ago we read together the story of the birth of Jesus.
I love this story, its simplicity, its innocence, its simple beauty. I also love it because I love understatement.
I was trained as a jazz musician and composer and one of the things teachers harping on was the idea that ‘less is more’; that you say more musically when you keep it very simple.
The Birth of Christ, or the Nativity is the grandest understatement of all time. Why do I say that? Well, at one level what occurs in the manger is what has happened at some point in the life of every human being. We were born. Anyone here that doesn’t apply to? No, of course not.
Peel that back just a layer or two and you get the true story, the story that hints at ‘why’ all this controversy and strong feeling, pro and con, about Christmas.
We’ve read the key Scripture for this Advent service and refamiliarized ourselves with it, so let’s look at two other passages that reveal what was going on at the seemingly simple scene in the manger. We’ll consider a key passage, which is about Jesus, and then back up a couple of verses to get the context:
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This is another telling of the Nativity,
but different of course from the Nativity passage we just read. This is what is really going on in the understated events in the manger. Now we’re peeling back
the onion. “The Word” here in the koine or ancient Greek is “Logos". And what the word “Word” means is at the heart of the matter. Are you ready?
The Word, or Logos means the communication, the sayings and the moral teachings of God. It means the personal wisdom and power in union with God, it means God’s minister or agent in the creation of and the governing of the universe, the cause of all the world’s life both physical and ethical.
It means the self-revelation of God. In describing Jesus as the word, St. John’s gospel presents Jesus not only as the One Who gives God’s Word to humans, He IS the Word given to humans. He is the true word─ultimate reality revealed in a Person. The Logos is God.
And, John states, the Word became flesh. The Logos of God, which previously existed somewhere humanly indefinable, un-enfleshed, un-embodied, much as God the Father is…actually put on or clothed Himself in human skin.