Of course, you’ve already been to church on Christmas at least once. But in case you’re thinking that more sermons would be nice, here is my preachment for Christmas this year. TL/DR version: Jesus fixes our messes.
It’s not the noisy children you need to watch out for. It’s when they’re being quiet that you really worry. What are they up to? If they are noisy, they are playing or arguing. All is well. If they are quiet, they are doing something, and they don’t want mom or dad bothering them. Which means, they are scheming somehow. That’s when you worry. Because there’s going to be a mess on the other side of that silence. Hours of cleaning. Trip to doctor or emergency room. Something is going on. And it’s not so good.
We’re good at making messes. Jobs, families, friendships, the church. There’s not a lot of areas where we can’t make a big ol’ mess. And sometimes, it’s not just a matter of sweeping and scrubbing. Sometimes we make a mess of things, and all the kings horses and all the kings men can’t put things back together again. It’s a mess that can’t be cleaned up.
Earlier today, the presents were opened. Later there will be a feast. The world looks at it and says, it’s all over today, just as we in the church are getting started. But the world’s been going for months. Parties, decorations, various gift exchanges. TV specials that make scant reference to Christ. There’s so much going on. And so little of it is even remotely related to the baby in the manger.
This isn’t really a surprise. There really wasn’t much notice taken the first time he came. It’s not a surprise that people are so busy celebrating the day named for him, that they don’t have time to celebrate the one the day is named for. And all the secular stuff reminds us of a very comforting truth: The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.
The son of God became one of us. He entered the messy mass of humanity, in order to redeem humanity. The material trappings of Christmas remind us that it was into this material world that he entered. It was for the salvation of the creation that he became a creature.
And he came for all of the messes that we have made of our lives. He came right into the middle of those. The word, made flesh. God incarnate. This isn’t just some dream. it’s not just Jesus pretending to be one of us, or only looking like one of us, it’s not a game. It’s a real savior. A real person. But this person is also God. The word of God, made flesh for you.
Christ lived in a world of messy humanity. At one point he meets a woman who has had five husbands – and yet still manages to live with a man who isn’t her husband. The messes we can make. One of his disciples promises big things, and then denies Jesus to his face. Another sells him out, then feels so guilty that he decides to end it all. Jesus is surrounded by messes. There’s all sorts of messes we get into. All sorts of problems we create for ourselves. Jesus came to bring forgiveness for those. The word made flesh.
And that we can make such a mess out of even the celebration of his birth, that we can get so bound to worldly things even as we hear the angels sing, is only proof of how very important those words are: The word was made flesh.
We do not have a savior unable to sympathize with us. Rather he came into this mess of sin, to save. He wasn’t just an observer, he wasn’t some superman. He was a human being, tempted, put in tough situations, surrounded by those who had made of mess of things. He met people who were known sinners. Because he was made flesh for them. Those who didn’t deserve mercy. He was made flesh for them. Those who, through no fault of their own, suffered from illness, and had effectively given up hope of health and healing, who assumed that sickness and death was all that lay in their future. He was made flesh for them. Those who had lost loved ones to death and the grave. who had empty chairs at their holiday tables. Even parents who had lost children. He was made flesh for them.
Jesus came into this teaming mass of humanity. The word was made flesh to dwell among us. To bring us the glory of the Father. To bring grace and truth. This is what he does. He comes into the messy world, the place where we struggle, and he gives himself into death for you. He suffers your punishment. He gets involved in the mess, he lets his body be abused, be mistreated. The hits, the black eyes, the fat lips, the blood running down his chin and dripping into the ground. He’s been there and done that. And he does it because he knows that it’s the only way for you to be saved. Being made flesh, and living as one of us. With all that it entails.
Today, his holy church exists to bring him, and the life he gives, to sinners. And it exists in this mess of a world. And we know how to make a big mess of things. Even in the church. We’re still all sinners. We need the forgiveness he gives. And it can be messy. it can be difficult. it can be unpleasant, and sometimes it even seems like forgiveness, fixing the mess, is impossible. But that’s why The Word was made flesh. So that no matter how bad things get, Jesus can say, been there done that, conquered Satan. The mess Jesus got into wasn’t because of his sin, but because of yours. And so he was able to not only fix the mess, but undo the sin behind it. He is the one who saves. Who redeems. The one who came as one of us, who died as the least of us, and who now reigns as Lord of all.
We needed a real savior. Not just a storybook Savior to save us from storybook sins, and get us out of storybook problems. But a real savior, who lived this life, who knows what it is to have problems. To be tempted. To suffer. To face death. And he’s done something you haven’t done. He’s gone through death. And he did it for you.
The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Glory be to God on high, and on earth, peace, and goodwill toward men.