Christmas Day
Pastor George Pejakovich
Luke 1:26-38

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CHRISTMAS DAY HAS DAWNED, AND THE BELLS, LIGHTS, CANDLES, AND INCENSE OF LAST NIGHT ARE GONE. WE COME TO A NEW DAY, AND A NEW LOOK AT THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS. IN THE ACCOUNT OF THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, THERE ARE NO SENTIMENTAL STORIES OF THE COUPLE BEING TURNED AWAY FROM THE INN, THE BIRTH IN THE MANGER, ANGELS OVER THE FIELDS OF BETHLEHEM, SHEPHERDS RUSHING TO SEE THE CHILD ANNOUNCED BY THE ANGELS, AND IT ALMOST SEEMS AS IF JOHN DID NOT EVEN KNOW THE NAME OF JESUS’ MOTHER. IN OUR GOSPEL FOR TODAY, WE ARE FAR FROM THE SWEET STORIES OF LAST NIGHT, YET TODAY’S GOSPEL CAPTURES THE HEART, MEANING, AND THE GRACE OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY IN A NUTSHELL. JOHN BEGINS HIS GOSPEL ACCOUNT BY REPEATING THE FIRST WORDS OF SCRIPTURE ITSELF, “IN THE BEGINNING.” LIKE THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS, JOHN IS TALKING ABOUT CREATION; GOD’S NEW CREATION IN CHRIST, THE WORD MADE FLESH.

ACCORDING TO JOHN, HE WHO BECAME JESUS BY BEING BORN AS A DEFENSELESS CHILD IN A MANGER FILLED WITH COWS, SHEEP, DONKEYS, AND CHICKENS, AND THE SMELLY POOP THAT IS A PART OF LIFE, HAS BEEN WITH GOD, AND GOD HIMSELF, FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. GOD’S ETERNAL WORD, HIS REASON, ORDER, AND VERY BEING, HAS COME DOWN TO EARTH TO TAKE ON HUMAN FLESH. GOD HAS ALWAYS BEEN WITH US AND AT WORK IN THE WORLD THROUGH COVENANT, LAW, JUDGES, KINGS, AND PROPHETS. YET NOW GOD HAS GOTTEN MORE PERSONALLY INVOLVED WITH HIS CREATION, AND THE VERY WORD OF GOD HAS TAKEN ON HUMAN FLESH AND DWELLS WITH US, LITERALLY, “TENTS WITH US,” AS ONE OF US.

HE DID THIS BECAUSE THE WORLD THAT HAD FALLEN INTO DARKNESS NEEDED LIGHT, AND SO GOD CAME PREPARED TO STRUGGLE; LIGHT AGAINST DARKNESS, DAY AGAINST NIGHT. JOHN TELLS US THAT THIS STRUGGLE WILL BE ONGOING, AND THE LIGHT WILL WIN; “THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT.”

THIS MEANS THAT A NEW CREATION HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED WITH THE BIRTH OF THE CHILD CALLED IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US. WITH THIS NEW CREATION COMES THE NEW POSSIBILITIES FOR EVERYONE, EVEN THOUGH MANY, INCLUDING MANY CLOSE TO HIM, COULD NOT SEE WHAT GOD WAS DOING IN JESUS. ALL THOSE WHO DO RECOGNIZE GOD IN JESUS AND RECEIVE HIM ARE INVITED TO BECOME GOD’S OWN CHILDREN, AND IN THAT INVITATION IS A NEW FREEDOM FROM THE DARKNESS. IN CHRIST WE ARE REBORN NOT BY BLOOD, NO LONGER SUBJECT TO FAMILY TIES OR PLACE IN SOCIETY, NOR SUBJECT TO THE FRAILTIES OF HUMAN FLESH FOREVER. NOR WILL BE SUBJECT TO THE WILL OF THE FLESH, BECAUSE NOW WE ARE MORE THAN OUR DESIRES. NOR TO THE WILL OF HUMANS, SUBJECT TO THE WHIM AND WILL OF OTHERS. RATHER, BECAUSE OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE, WE ARE REBORN AS GOD’S CHILDREN AND RESTORED TO GOD’S INTENTION IN HIS ORIGINAL CREATION.

SO THE TRUE CHRISTMAS STORY FOR JOHN IS NOT JUST ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN A STABLE SO LONG AGO, BUT IS ABOUT HERE, TODAY, RIGHT NOW. CHRISTMAS MAY BE WHEN WE CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF BABY JESUS, BUT IT IS ALSO THE DAY WHEN WE CELEBRATE OUR BIRTH AS CHILDREN OF GOD, THE KEEPING OF ALL THE PROMISES OF GOD, AND THE BEGINNING OF THE RESTORATION OF ALL CREATION. THE TRUE STORY OF CHRISTMAS IS THE STORY OF AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING, IS NOW, AND WILL BE FOREVER. AMEN