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Delivered By
Pr. David Fleener
Delivered On
December 24, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Central Passage
John 1:1-14

Pr. David Fleener

Sermon: Christmas Eve, December 24, 2017

John 1:1-14


            Under cover of night, in deepest darkness, the infinite, eternal God, the Word which spoke at creation and brought all things into being, the Light which enlightens everything, was born of a human mother, in a tiny little backwater town. And in this tiny backwater town, the Lord of all was born among the livestock and laid in a feeding trough.


            Not exactly the script we might expect. If God were to come to earth, we might expect him to appear as the “one like a human being” in Daniel 7, in his full glory and power. We might think that God would vindicate the faithful and right all wrongs in the world openly. We wouldn’t expect God to play “hide-and-seek” like this.  


            After all, why should God seem so hidden, both then in the manger and now in our time? Christmas is supposed to be the “hap-happiest season of all”, but that expectation often drives us to feel the opposite. We often feel pain at this time unlike any other time of year. This is the time where we long for a wholeness that we cannot attain – especially in our families. In place of presence, we so often feel absence. In place of peace, we feel brokenness. Instead of serenity, we often feel anxiety. There is so much beyond our control, and even that fact brings us much pain. Because we have so little control, we long for a strong God to come out into the open to save. This is part of the psalmist’s cry, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?”


            And God does come to save us – but not as we expect, and not as we ask. In 1518, in a theological disputation, Luther wrote, “It does (a person) no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes God in the humility and shame of the cross”. In other words, it is by looking at those places we least expect – in a manger among animals in a little one-horse town, in a couple recently married under dubious circumstances forced to travel by imperial edict – that God is most visible. Don’t look to the beauty of creation. Don’t look to a beautiful sunset. Don’t even look at the beautiful snowfall outside. God is certainly visible and known through things like this that are obviously beautiful, but if you really want to know God in Christ Jesus, look to places where there is suffering. Look for the cross, and you’ll find Christ. God saves, not by rescuing us out of pain, but by going with us into it.


            That little baby in the manger is God enfleshed, Emmanuel, God-with-us, who has come to save us by dwelling with us. He took on everything that comes with being human, except for sin – and on the cross, he took the weight of the world’s sin, too. He takes everything that we are so that we can be everything that he is. That is how far God is willing to go to bring his people out of darkness and into his light.


            In places of deepest darkness, of the worst suffering, God remind us all that he has gone (and still goes) through it all with us. And God give us faith to see him walking at our side, leading us into the day that will never end. Merry Christmas. Amen.


© 2017, David M. Fleener. Permission granted to copy and adapt original material herein for non-commercial purposes with appropriate credit given.