December 25, 2019

Sermon – Feast of Christmas


The Feast of Christmas

December 25, 2019

By V. Rev. Timothy Baclig

In our church the celebration of Christmas does not end today.  Christmas continues for a full twelve days!  It extends into the New Civil Year.  And while the shops in the mall may begin to dismantle all of the Christmas decorations, we are only at the beginning of the Feast!   The festal cycle is culminated on the twelfth day with celebration of Christ’s baptism by St. John the Baptist in the Jordan when the Gospel reveals the full revelation of God as:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Today is a day of great rejoicing!  Our celebration is about the coming of God’s Son in human flesh: “in the fullness of time” (Galatians 4:4).  What we say in our Creed is what St. Irenaeus describes: “He who was eternally begotten of the Father before all time, was born of a Virgin Mother in time.”

He who “…was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became Man…” Notice: our current translation of the Creed says: “was made man,” however, we believe and understand that our Lord Jesus Christ was eternally existent with the Father and the Spirit.  Therefore He was never “made man.”  No.  He is truly the uncreated God.  He "became a man.”  He did not accomplish this as one who laid aside His divinity, but as God who assumed our humanity.  

Why did He do this?  In order to fully restore our nature to its proper dignity; to reconcile and unite us with the Father [Abba] (Galatians 4:6-7); to renew our human nature that had become marred and tainted by sin.  This was not done in a way to impose His will on us, nor to force any change in us; instead by becoming a child who was born of a Holy Virgin in a humble cave.  The manger provides us with the image of divine  humility, just as His Death and Burial is presented to us in Holy Week as the image of “great humility.”  Christ was born amidst turmoil and great controversy.  Our lives in this current day is no different.  But “God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) such that, we can experience true peace.

St. Leo the Great (5th c) tells us:  “Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life.  The fear of death has been swallowed up; [Christ’s] life brings us hope with the promise of eternal joy.  No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for it.  Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all!”

Today we are reminded of our human dignity because we are now partakers as sharers of His divine nature.  Each time we come to the Sacrament with repentant hearts that is precisely what we experience: union with the Divine Son of God.  We receive His Body and Blood“ for the forgiveness of sins and unto life everlasting."

And so today our lives are filled with joy, for like the Holy Virgin, we are “God bearers.”  St. Leo goes on to say:  “…Remember your dignity!… Bear in mind Whose Body you are members.  Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s Kingdom.  Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit: a dwelling place of God no less than the Virgin’s womb or the Bethlehem cave… keep the Feast as your holy dignity demands.  Hasten toward the star.  Worship with the Magi.  With the shepherds be filled with amazement.  And with the angels, glorify the Saviour:  God become man.”