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CHRISTMASTIDE 2020

CHRISTMASTIDE 2020

By the Rev. Roger Salter
December 24, 2020

In this was the love of God made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him (1 John 4:9).

Collect; The Nativity of our Lord

Almighty God, you who given us your only begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure Virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Holy Scripture: John 1:1-14. It was the Word that was at the very beginning; and the Word was by the side of God, and the Word was the very same as God. It was he who at the very beginning was by the side of God. All things came into being through him, and there was nothing that came into being apart from him. In him there was life, that life which was ever the light of men, the light which shines on in the darkness, and the darkness failing to gain mastery over it.

There was man that made his appearance, a man sent forth by God; and his name was John. He came to bear witness: he was to be witness of the light; so that everyone might learn to believe through him. It was not that man who was the light; to be a witness of the light was the task appointed to him. Meanwhile, the true light which sheds its light upon every man was ever coming into the world. He was in the world, and it was through him that the world came into being. Yet the world did not acknowledge him. He came into a realm that was his, and those who were his very own would not accept him. Yet to those who would receive him, to those placing their trust in his very name, he granted the right to become God's children, they being the ones whose birth was not owing to their bodily descent, not to the promptings of fleshly desire, nor to the promptings of man, but who took birth from God himself. So the Word became a creature of flesh and blood and made his stay in our midst. And we saw his glory, the glory, which is his as the Father's only Son, coming forth from the Father, full of grace and truth. Cassirer Translation*

Hebrews 1:1-12. God having spoken, in time of old, to our forefathers by the mouth of the prophets -- and that on many an occasion in many different ways -- has now, at the close of these days of ours, spoken to us in the person of one who is his Son, whom he has appointed to possess all things as his inheritance, just as it was through him that he created whatever there has been throughout the ages. It is he who radiates forth God's glory, who is the precise counterpart of his very being, who sustains all things by his mighty word of command. Moreover, having accomplished the purging away of sins, "he took his seat at the right hand of the divine majesty on high, being as highly exalted above the angels as the title which he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

And indeed, what angel is there to whom God has ever said, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father': or again, 'I shall be Father to him; and he shall be a Son to me'? And then, there is this, that when, in his turn, he brings his firstborn into the inhabited world, he speaks thus: ' And may all the angels pay homage to him.'

*[A Letter Addressed To Readers of Hebrew Descent, God's New Covenant, A New Testament Translation, Heinz W. Cassirer.] As a Jewish translator of the New Testament, he often brings out subtle meanings that escape the Gentile scholar. E. Earle Ellis. We need Jewish eyes to help us read and understand the Gospels and Epistles in a faithful way - and that is precisely what Heinz Cassirer does for us. Thomas F. Torrance.

"The eyes of the Old Testament church and the eyes of the New Testament church meet on Christ" John "Rabbi"Duncan

The Word Was The Very Same As God

No higher tribute can be paid to the Lord Jesus than the above. Both begotten (divine) and embodied (human) the unique Person of two natures is worthy of the highest esteem as the God-man. He is eternal Word and born of a woman. "So the Word became a creature of flesh and blood."

This fact is too astounding for us to absorb. This Lord himself enables us to believe by his grace and we can only marvel at his word of revelation brought home to our minds and lodged lovingly in our hearts. "Oh, behold him! Behold his Person, grace, work, heart! Oh, there is none like Christ! None like Christ! (Duncan).

Our Maker came into our midst as one of us. It is a truth that surprises and shocks and defies our comprehension. Our Maker made himself the same as us, except in one detail - he came in pure humanity, we being found polluted in our fallen and evil nature. "All things came into being through him, and there was nothing that came into being apart from him." He even fashioned his virgin mother who brought him to birth. In coming into his realm by virtue of creation he came through supernatural power to reverse our self-wrought ruination. An insignificant maiden was his chosen instrumentality of entering our sphere, but the initiation and efficiency of our rescue from pollution and peril was all of God. "Salvation is of the Lord" Solely! Exclusively!

Human effort allied to the force of darkness was expended in the attempt to repulse the life and light of the Savior, for the darkness failed to gain mastery over the light that shone in the coming of the Word.

John's apostolic testimony is that the band of Jesus' close friends observed his glory and splendor as the Father's only Son in the history of his dwelling upon earth. The Word expressed his Father's nature and glory and revealed his mind through the grace and truth shared by the Son.

John in his prologue delineates the sublime grandeur of the Word, God's one and only Son. The writer to the Hebrews concurs. "It is he who radiates forth God's glory, who is the precise counterpart of his very being, who sustains all things by his mighty word of command."

It is apt that we are made cognizant of the Son's mighty word, the strength and authority of his divine command, for we see the greatness of God in the exertion of sovereign grace. The One of unique birth caused children of the devil and darkness to become children of God, not by any natural process but by his heavenly power, an act of spiritual regeneration, birth from above, "birth from God himself". He granted the right to believers to become his children by adoption and grace.

The acceptance of Christ, receiving of him, and trusting in him, is the fruit of regeneration. Human beings are not by nature children of God. They are his creatures, but the sons and daughters of the Lord become so by adoption prompted and accomplished by grace (the Collect). God chooses them for his own, and Paul is able to say to such adoptees, "And because of him you are in Christ Jesus" (1Corinthians 1:30). In that awareness those born from above are constantly, "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12).

There is a dual concentration on the reality of birth at Christmastide. The wondrous birth of the Son of God elicits our amazement and joy. God as man, from infancy and throughout eternity. We who welcome the Son and trust him from the heart have been born again for sweet communion with the Son everlastingly. These two facts entwine in our observance of the festival. This ensures a real Christmas that never fades from memory. Jesus our Lord came to make all things new, and it is imperative for true Christmas joy and comprehension that we know ourselves born afresh in him. Our Collect is a theological gem for constant perusal.

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