Christmas Day 2022

Christmas Day
December 25, 2022 A+D
St. John 1:1-18

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

John gets to his point right away: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That point culminates and crescendos in verse 14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Everything that we are and believe depends upon this: Our Lord Jesus Christ is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity. He is Himself the Creator, equal to the Father and the Spirit, without beginning. He is the Voice of the Father. He speaks Light and there is Light. He shines in the darkness, bringing order out of chaos. He is the Life of men, who breathed His image into Adam and Eve. He, the only begotten of the Father, sought them in the garden after their rebellion and promised to take their place in His Father’s wrath and crush the serpent’s head. He is God of God and Light of Light, but now He is also and ever will be a Man.

John Mason Neale’s translation Of the Father’s Love Begotten gets at this reality about as well as any hymn ever written. He knows exactly what is at stake.

The first stanza proclaims the Son’s Divinity. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, He who would take up Flesh to save us, was not created. He is eternally begotten from the Father. He is His Father’s beloved and the Creator of all that is created or ever will exist.

We sing:

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are and have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.

The second stanza proclaims the Incarnation. The virgin, overshadowed by the Spirit and filled with grace, conceived the Savior of all men. Alpha and Omega becomes a Man. Along with arms and legs, feet and hands, and all the rest, God now has a human face. He turns that face to us in favor. We can look on God and not be destroyed.

2 Oh, that birth forever blessed
when the virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race,
and the babe, the world’s Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face
evermore and evermore.

The 3rd stanza proclaims Him as the Hope of Israel. He is the fulfillment of Scripture, the long-expected, waited for Son of David who will sit on David’s throne forever. This wasn’t a surprise visit. This was promised in the trustworthy Word of God. Those who hope in Him are not disappointed.

3 This is he whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord,
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word.
Now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord
evermore and evermore.

The 4th stanza reminds us that godly praise moves from heaven to earth. First we listen. We are silent. Then we join. We repeat back what we have heard. After hearing that God has reconciled us to Himself in the Son of Mary and receives us as His own children, we can’t be silent. We have to sing and we sing in concert, together, with the angels.

4 O ye heights of heav’n adore him,
angel hosts, His praises sing.
pow’rs, dominions bow before him
and extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
ev’ry voice in concert ring
evermore and evermore.

The final stanza is a hymn of praise, fulfilling the call of the 4th.

5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unending praises be,
honor, glory, and dominion
and eternal victory
evermore and evermore.

Everything that we are and believe depends upon this: Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true Man, born of the virgin Mary, is Our Lord. He became flesh and dwelt among us. We have beheld His glory in Word and Sacrament. There, according to promise, He is still shining in the darkness. He gives life and light to us, giving us the power to become the children of God and giving us His Holy Spirit.

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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