Preached Christmas Eve 2022 at Midnight Mass in the Parish of the North Peace. Rooted in the Second Book of Homilies.
Come, all you faithful ones, all you who are brave enough to be here and perhaps catch faith, and see the tender mercy of our God, the mystery of the incarnation. Though the serpent whispered in our ear, “did God really say?” and though we were justly cast out of paradise to wander anxiously in earth, the Lord proclaimed even then that he would put strife between the serpent and the Son of Man, and one shall come to break the serpent’s head. He promised even then the coming of a Messiah and Mediator into the world, to make peace where before there was war, to usher in a new promise sealed in flesh and blood.
By faith Abraham received this promise, that from his children all nations and families of the earth should be blessed. That we should not despair God sent prophet after prophet to publish repeat and confirm the same hope. One was coming, Isaiah said, Immanuel born of a virgin girl. Micah echoed that he would be born in Bethlehem. Zechariah said he would be born into poverty. Malachi said that an Elijah would come before him, to prepare the way, who was John the Baptist, whose call rings now in my ears “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
In this feast we celebrate that he has come. According to the promise and proclamation a Messiah and a Mediator has come, one who should deliver humanity from the bitter curse of the Law and make satisfaction by his death. Christ is born of a woman under the curse that he might redeem from bondage we who were under the Law. He has made us instead of slaves, sons and daughters by adoption and grace. While we were still his enemies and children of wrath and firebrands of hell fire he appeared in the flesh. In the flesh he is the great love of God. And this is that love that appears to us, that transforms what we understand love to be, not that we love God but that he loved us and pursued us, and sent his Son to reconcile us to himself. This is love. This is who dying we proclaim and show forth.
Behold this Christ who is fully man. The Word, the second person of the Trinity became flesh and dwelt among us. Wonder at how earthy this is. This Jesus hungered as he fasted in the desert. This Jesus thirst as he hung upon the cross. This Jesus ate supper with outcasts and sinners. This Jesus drank wine with his friends. This Jesus slept upon a boat while the storm raged about him. This Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus and at the state of the city Jerusalem. This Jesus angered at injustice at the temple and had enough of the crowds and needed to be alone. He paid taxes, wrote in the dust, and harvested crops. He came in the flesh. He died in the flesh and redeemed that flesh-our nature, our dust- to a resurrected life. In this same baby’s body he ascended into heaven and at the right hand of the Father this body still intercedes for us. Our Mediator can Mediate for us truly for he is fully of our nature, he has taken our nature upon himself and transformed it and completed it as he will complete his saints. Our flesh and not another’s. We will see him standing again upon the earth with our own eyes.
Behold this Christ who is fully God. No creature has the power to destroy death, to give life, to overcome hell, to purchase heaven, to remit sins, to give righteousness. For this Messiah and Mediator needed not only to be in his full nature man but also in his full nature God. For this reason at his baptism heaven broke forth and proclaimed this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Men bowed down and worshipped him. Demons fled. Storms and fig trees obeyed. He saw into the hearts of his creatures and spoke heavenly things to our deepest corruption and pangs.
Before this Christ all were lost sheep, prodigal sons, workers of iniquity, blind guides in the darkness and shadow of death. But with this child taking our nature up into the divine nature he makes all who would receive him children of God, heirs of an everlasting kingdom. The reason he came was to save and deliver his people, to fulfill the Law and bear witness to the truth, to give light in a cold dark world. Come to this child, you who are weary and our heavy laden, for he casts out the prince of this world, he crushes the serpent’s head, he silences and empties the accusation that man is not worthy of the love of God. May we receive this pilgrim who came to earth, this dear Son, who came to make us sons and daughters.
Let us confess with our mouths and praise with our tongues and trust in our hearts and believe on him with our hearts and glorify this Jesus. Christ is the light. Let us receive the light of the world to overturn our darkness. Christ is the truth. Let us believe the truth. Christ is the way, let us follow the way. Seeing as we have been delivered from the tyranny of the world, the flesh and the devil by Christ let us never fall into their hands again. This Christmas let us receive Christ, not for a time, but forever. Let us believe his word, not for a time, but forever. Let us become his servants, not for a time but forever. For he has redeemed and saved us, not for a time, but for ever. He will receive us into his heavenly kingdom, there to reign with him for a time, but forever. Brothers and sisters you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich. Let us stand therefore as we sing together.