The Eve of the
Nativity of our Lord
D. G. Phillips
Crousetown, LaHave and Broad Cove - December 24, 2007
Hebrews 1:1-12 John 1:1-14
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us
full of grace and truth."
The night has finally arrived. It is the beginning of the new
day – the Nativity of our Lord.
we have put aside all business. We are simply resting in this
moment. For this hour is set apart for the worshipping of God. So
to enter tonight into God’s rest, for this is why He has come to us in
God’s rest is a
deep peace. But it is not a falling asleep - though this may be
difficult if we've just come from a great feast! It is not the
annihilation of ourselves so that there is nothing. Rather, it is a
state of being that is full of hope and expectation of glory. It is
the peace that comes with being fully alert, fully alive, fully
reconciled and in
love with God and our neighbour. And this rest, this state of
peace is to be entered into if we would worship God.
from on high hath visited us, to bring light to them that sit in
darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into
way of peace.
peace comes about by God taking flesh and dwelling among us. This
is what we celebrate at Christmas.
It is a strange
religion that we hold to – that God should come to dwell among us in
the flesh. For His followers, Jesus brings about profound
transformation, filling every stage of our lives with a holy
You here tonight
who are mothers, you know something of the love of Mary for Jesus.
Did your mind ever turn to thoughts of Mary and the baby Jesus as
you held and nurtured your child in your arms? Does it return there
tonight? Fathers, you know something of Joseph’s frantic love to
provide shelter and protection for this frail Mother and Child –
feeling, of necessity, one step removed, and yet wanting to do
something to help? God turns upside down in a moment, by His
Incarnation, notions of what is most important in this world – not
the building of earthly kingdoms – but the tender moments of new
life, because He took flesh of the Virgin Mary and was made man.
You here today
who are in your teens, remember when Jesus was a teen?
He went to the
Temple and sat among the teachers, and they were astonished at His
answers. But who else can tell us on earth of the deep things of
God except He who came down from heaven? This scene in the Temple
of the teenager Jesus – does it not come to mind to parents and
teachers, when a teen rebukes the imperfection of our lives. Are we
not listening to all ages a little more closely, because the Word
was made flesh and dwelt among us?
As each one of
us here follows Jesus, in the life of virtue, the Word takes flesh
among us. And Jesus says we can expect to discover in giving drink
to those are thirsty, food to those who are hungry, when visiting
the sick, and those in prison, we can expect to encounter Jesus
Himself. These simple encounters – not great political intrigues,
or the building of personal empires – our kind attentions to one
another, we are told, are known forever in heaven. But our knowing
this and our doing it become possible because the Word was made
flesh and dwelt among us.
As we stumble in
our lives trying to follow Jesus, we know more and more the need for
a Saviour. We have come to trust in the offering of Jesus Christ,
for the forgiveness of our sins. But it’s only because we believe
that Jesus is God made flesh that His suffering and death upon the
Cross, we are sure, is the sacrifice sufficient for the sins of the
whole world. There could be no greater offering and He has done it
for us, in the flesh. Getting the smallest things right in our
souls, between God and man, are important to us because the Word
was made flesh and dwelt among us – (Jesus shows us these are
matters of eternal significance.)
As we age, all
of us suffer in the flesh. Our bodies will be broken in time.
Which one of us, as believers in the Incarnate Word, have not
received relief and renewal of hope, as we think upon Jesus who
(says the writer of Hebrews) was perfected through His suffering in
the flesh? Which one of us, feeling forsaken, has not remembered
the words of our Lord on the Cross and found strength once again to
commend our souls to our heavenly Father. We know that our
God knows us in our sufferings and loves us. He bears the imprints
of love in His hands and feet and in His side. Our sufferings can
be redemptive because the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Do you see how
God’s coming in the flesh makes significant all our earthly
circumstances – our birth, our childhood, our adult years, our
sufferings, even our dying? He renews our love for one another and
our love for God.
Yet, He has come
into the world to show us much more than this.
God appeared to us in this passing world, in the flesh, so that we
might fix our earthly eyes on Him – and so to be led, by steps, to
know first His perfect humanity. And then, as St. Paul says, to no
longer think of him in the flesh only but of him where he is
seated on the
right hand of the Majesty on high. We come to know Jesus
as God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God.
God’s coming to
earth brings about the enfleshment of the Word in us, through
following the example of his perfect earthly life. But He also
leads us to know the Word that was in the beginning with God, the
Word that is God. And that Word can be known inwardly, in our
hearts. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does
not overcome it. And it is in knowing this
Light and nothing less, upon hearing this Word
spoken inwardly in our hearts, that we enter into God’s rest, and
truly come to know peace.
who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him,
and as at this time to be born of a pure Virgin: Grant that we being
regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily
be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus
Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, ever
one God, world without end. Amen.