1 Christmas 2012: What child is this?

Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3   Psalm 147:13-21    Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7   John 1:1-18

 What child is this?

(sing)  What child is this, who laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?

In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

In a beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

This is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing.

… and the Word was God.

The babe, the son of Mary.

He was in the beginning with God.

This child in the manger is Jesus:  he is the son of Mary, only and begotten son of God; He is Creator, Light, born of a woman, Jewish, and God.

The beginning of John’s gospel and the first verse of Genesis are the same:  “in a beginning,” “en arkay (in Greek)”…. And then, in John:  “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.”  John wants us to know that Jesus is the “capital-W” Word and our Creator.  We have a same beginning, which emphasizes to us that Jesus has always existed.  Jesus is both divine, he is co-creator with God, and he is human: he came to us a child.

What comes into being with Jesus in the manger is not just a baby and not just aking, not “just” God born into the world, but: “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”

Light.  The Christ light that we were waiting for has come, and it is our very life.  Jesus is not only the light of the world, but the LIFE of the world, beginning with its creation.

What child is this?  Oh, what a child this is!  Jesus is creation, and light, and life.  Mary’s son.

And we who call ourselves Christian have a question.  … SO WHAT?  …

Why does any of this analysis and interplay among a song, the gospel of John and a creation story in Genesis matter to me, to us?  What difference does it make to us in Henrietta, NY in 2012 almost 2013?  Because.  Because … it all begs the question:

Who are WE because of this child?

Who are we?  That is our question and our homework and our life’s work.

Who are we because of this child?

John tells us the answer:  we are God’s children, adopted by grace.  We are adopted as God’s children, and not because we deserve it – no.  We can be born into great financial wealth or into extreme financial poverty.  We are children of God.  The money doesn’t matter.  We are adopted by God’s love and grace.  We have been given light and life.

Remember in Genesis, God said, “let there be light,” and it was so.  God speaks, and “it,” whatever “it” is, is so.  Let there be light, and it was so.  Let the earth divide the waters, and it was so.  Now, Jesus declares us righteous, and so we are.  We are righteous not because we deserve it or have earned it or have struggled for it and conquered some army (of our making), but because our Lord has declared it so.

There is no better gospel message, no better good news for today.  The light and life of the world has come; it is so.


“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  This light conquers the darkness.  Has there been darkness in these days?  We don’t have to look very far:  Newtown, CT.  Webster, NY.  In our world, in our towns, in our bodies through illness, in our minds by the burdens that we bear, there is darkness.  Jesus overcomes all of the darkness we experience, all of the darkness that we can imagine.

Jesus did not take those children in CT.  Jesus accepted them into His loving arms.  Jesus did not decide that “it was time” for the first responders in Webster.  (Do you hear the difference?  Not “taking” but embracing.)  Jesus took them in His arms and gave them new life beyond this world, beyond hate and derangement and pain.  Jesus embraces us, too:  from the time of creation until – forevermore.  We are God’s children, loved beyond measure, embraced and yes, even righteous.  It is so.

Again we ask ourselves,

Who are we in light of this child, this grace?

In terms that we might understand:  many of us were raised with what we call manners; social norms, if you will.  The napkin is placed on the left side of the plate when the table is set, and then it is placed on your lap during the meal.  We say “please” and “thank you,” and in some cultures, ‘yes ma’am’ and “no ma’am.”  “Yes, sir.”  When we receive a gift, what do we do?  (prompt)  That’s right, we write a thank you note.  A thank you note is appropriate; a sincere, polite response to a gift.  (We’ll talk about the experience of guilt of not writing the note at another time.)

In a “write a thank you note” mindset, how do we write a thank you note for the gift of life?

We could go through an exercise of writing such a thank you note.  I cannot imagine how long that note might be.  In fact, it’s a great project:  write down for what you are thankful.  Start with life.  Living through your physical birth.  And then for breath.  Breathing.  It’s going to be a l-o-n-g note….

We are Christians, declared righteous, and we have a big thank you note to write.  There is another way to express our knowledge and thanksgiving of knowing who this Savior child is.  Well, there is a call on our lives through our existence as Christians.  Many of us have turned our lives to Christ in the sacrament of baptism.  Others of us seek that way of life, in which Christ marks us as his own forever.  Forever!  Can you imagine? … yes, we can, and so we are called as Christians to respond with our lives –to be a living thank you note – in response to the Christ child.  We might not sit down and write an endless thank you note to God, but we can live one.  We are called to live in recognition of Jesus as our Lord and our Savior, and us as His precious children.

Remember?  The wise men went home by another way.  We, too, go home by another way, changed forever by this infant in a manger, our king, our creator, Mary’s son.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Thank you, Lord Jesus.

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