Monday, December 24, 2018

God (the Son) Is With Us: A Christmas Eve Homily, 2018

[N.B.: Two other preachers addressed the theme of 'God With Us' in terms of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.]

I bring you good tidings of great joy! There is a grand truth that in one master-stroke sets Christianity apart from every philosophy and religion of all the world. And it's this: that the God whose whisper gives electrons their energy didn't think it was satisfactory to interact with us from above. He didn't consider it good enough to talk with us from a distance, to save us from a distance. He wanted, not just to be over us, but to be with us. Of course, throughout the Old Testament, we were told already that God was with us. Pagans confessed to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do” (Genesis 21:22). Balaam the pagan prophet chanted against his will about Israel in the desert, “The LORD their God is with them” (Numbers 23:21). David the great king said to his son Solomon, “Do not be afraid, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you” (1 Chronicles 28:20). All this we, were we treading the dusty roads of Judea in the days of Herod's power, would already have learned.

But when we get to Bethlehem, we find a new story. Do you know what we find when we stand beside or kneel before the manger? For the first time, God is with us on our level. For the first time, God is with us as one of us. God is with us from inside human nature, with us to experience human life from an insider view, to see our faces through human eyes, to hear our prayers with human ears, to smell our aromas with a human nose and taste our cooking with human taste-buds. In the Son, God is with us in a touching and touchable way.

You see, the stunning truth is, God the Son found no resentment in being carried nine months in a human womb, bound to a human woman by an umbilical cord; God the Son didn't resent being born amidst human blood and human tears, cradled vulnerably in human arms, fed and reared on human milk, dressed in clothes of human manufacture like yours ad mine. God was content with nothing less than solidarity, even intimacy, from human infancy to human maturity. God the Son is with us and doesn't feel the slightest discomfort in calling you his brother or his sister (Hebrews 1:12). And so he had to be made like his human brothers and human sisters “in every respect” (Hebrews 1:17).

Which means that God the Son is with us in our temptations and our struggles, in our griefs and our joys, in our pleasures and in our pains. God the Son is with us, taking up our tools to craft our redemption, raising up our arms to fight alongside us, winning with us as one of us (cf. Hebrews 4:15). Because God the Son is really and truly Immanuel, 'God-with-us' in human flesh and human blood, then the victory of God on the cross, the victory of God in the resurrection, the victorious reign of God the Son in heaven right now at his Father's right hand – it's the divine victory of humanity itself. What we are, at our very core, is crowned on heaven's throne in the person of Jesus, son of Mary.

In our Immanuel, our Jesus, God the Son is forever with us. Forever bound to us by everything it means to be human. Forever making angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, dominions and powers drop their jaws in astonishment and awe at what you are, because what you are is something God the Son chose also to be, so that he could make you his brother or his sister. So that the Eternal Word could see what you see, smell what you smell, taste what you taste, feel your touch – and have you feel his. That's something radically new. It raises questions no angel ever asked in the age of Abraham. Behold, in Bethlehem has God done a new thing!

Never again can God not be with us. For God the Son is become one of us. One of you. Go now, in your spirit. Go to Judah. Go to Bethlehem in the still and silent night. Go see a human infant, crying in a man-made trough under a man-made roof, wrapped up in rags of human weaving. He is one of us. Thus is he God-with-us. He is our Immanuel here. Glory to him! Amen.

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