O Come Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord. In the name of Jesus + Amen.
Adoration is not something you can merely see. It’s participatory. The Shepherds, after the Word of adoration was made known to them said, Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord made known to us. You see, it is the Lord who makes known the Word of adoration and then we, like the Shepherds, purely out of awe from the Word, have to go and see. They went and made haste; not just lolly gaging to find Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in the manger. And when they saw it, what is it? The Word of adoration, the Christ child, you could say the whole shebang. Then their next steps, their progression was to make known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. Following that comes wonder, treasuring, and pondering; then the shepherds returning to their vocations glorifying God for it all.
The walk of the Christian life begins with the Christ child and the shepherds give us a great example for how it begins. We are simply “out in the fields,” the Lord calls to us by His Word, we go and see, go and tell, and for the rest of our lives we are wondering more and more, treasuring up the Word, thinking about these things and return after worshipping with the Christ to glorify Him forever. It’s the true destination and cycle of life and it begins with the O Come All Ye Faithful – especially the part we sung, Son of the Father now in flesh appearing.
The birth of Jesus inaugurates a new year as well. Isaiah foretold it; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord in chapter 61: To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. It all starts there. The rest of the life of faith builds on the Word made flesh and dwelling among us. It is the planting of the Lord all the way from the book of Genesis when God speaks about the seed of the woman conquering it all.
In the hymn that phrase “Now in flesh appearing” is sung twice in two different stanzas. It is important to remember. God in flesh appearing is the reason for it all; without that, our faith would be in vain. So, we sing and we’ve sung 4 times already, the starting praise having 15 stanzas throughout it too. The Children have sung and there will be 2 more hymns before the close of the night, ending with Silent Night. And though it will be silent, reverent, adoring – it is no secret that with the Word made flesh we cannot keep silent. It is our duty to thank and praise Him all the days of our lives.
For months now in the world and every year, packages galore having been going out. Delivery drivers hired to supplement the additional need; mall workers added to the number of stores. People preparing the season of gift giving…. My family and I went to Westfield Mall last Saturday and it took like 40 min to get a parking spot, Inside I never seen anything like it before in all my life. I guess I really have never gone shopping one week before Christmas before because we always try to have everything done before that. But what are those activities and actions all for? Certainly not for the progression of life just spoken of: receiving the Word, adoration, going to see, then meditating in our hearts and glorifying God forever. Yet even in absence of that, those worldwide traditions contain the hiddenness of it all.
Do people even realize what they are doing all this for? No, not everyone. Many do (we love to use the rhyme “Jesus is the reason for the Season,” but how often does it come across that way? The thing about it is Jesus is just not seasonal, He is eternal.
The Holy family went through a lot too. Having to travel a good distance, Mary about to give birth having to ride on a Donkey, sleep on the side of the road practically during the journey to Bethlehem. Then they get there, and they can’t even rest in the 4-star hotel. I mean, come on, she is carrying the Savior of the World. I think she should have got the best room and bed to give birth in, right?
They too are like us, representing traveling long roads, purposes to fulfill, mandates to uphold. Struggles, change, seasons… not season but seasons of life.
I doubt that there is a person in this room who hasn’t gone through something this year up till now. I imagine everyone could tell a story of their trials, pains, or upsets. Every Sunday as I list the names in our prayer list; the number doesn’t seem to get smaller; it actually grows. Yet we sing, Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant. It doesn’t always appear joyful and triumphant though does it? We need God with us. We need Him constantly in order to progress from the night of Christ’s birth into the here and for the hereafter. We must take hold of the light that shines in the darkness, there is no other way.
After John in his Gospel states this he says “and the darkness has not overcome it. He speaks of the Word from the beginning, before God in Flesh appearing, and he speaks of God in flesh appeared and also of God in flesh after the birth, after the crucifixion, after the death, after the resurrection, and the ascension too.
The “has not” in the darkness has not overcome it is continual though. The darkness has no power, and it will never defeat the light of the world. When the goodness and lovingkindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us. It’s hard to imagine that the babe in the manger was packaged, from the foundation of the world to come and do this marvelous thing. The necessity to deliver us from the darkness once overshadowing. And as the shepherds, the Holy family, the prophets of old, the Kings and Judges of Israel, all the way back to Adam and Eve….were doing nothing, could do nothing to save the world, so too no human, nothing in all creation could or can except the One who came. And as Titus 3:5 said, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness but according to his own mercy. Jesus is mercy, mercy is the reason for all the seasons. The free gift of washing clean, renewal. Renewal is something that is remade new. It is kind of like re-gifting (though we rather and aim to purchase only from ourselves a new and gift and give it), the greatest re-gifter of all time is the Holy Spirit though. He actually makes everyday Christmas by re-giving, sustaining, packaging, delivering the benefits and richness of Jesus Christ our Savior.
You see, the gift is so extravagant that it can’t be topped so why not re-use it over and over. It is why we as an entire world, a planet, virtually all created humans don’t just celebrate Christmas once in our lives but every year over and over and over again until we are with Christmas, like the Shepherds were, face to face.
You must see yourselves as the shepherds and the Mary and Josephs and all the men and women in between the journeys taken. For it is only through this rich gift that we become heirs, family, and as the rest of the Titus reading goes only become
heirs according to the hope of eternal life. You can survive minutes without breathing you know but you can’t survive seconds without hope. Hope is the most necessary life-giving mechanism there could ever be. No coincidence we start out the Advent Season with recognizing hope through the reflection of the first lit candle for this time of waiting.
According to the hope of eternal life. That’s what lay in the manger that Holy night: eternal life. It was accomplished with the Word becoming flesh and because it lasts for all Christmases to come and because of the mercies of the Lord being new every morning, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Available every new morning.
Procuring Adoration wasn’t easy. The same child born unto Mary that night was still the same one who created all things and in Him all things together. So, while he is needing his first feeding, first diaper changing, helpless like we all enter into this life – he was still sustaining and having to sustain all things in heaven and on earth. No task could be more pressing. The task that led to a more pressing one too. From the wooden cattle trough in swaddling clothes to the wood of the cross and the grave wrapped in swaddling cloth. Born to die so that you can live. Then unwrapped on the third day to guarantee life everlasting. This all is the progression that started that night the Shepherds received the Word. And as we do this every year it also is the progression we hope in and the adoration we are drawn to.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11, He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart.
Everyone is created with that longing no matter what they believe, they’re stuck with it, it was an ingredient formed together, knit by Christ Himself in your mother’s womb, to want to get there; eternity. Now the way to get there must be received. The Word must be made clear on where to go and see, where to wonder and ponder and treasure. And it was in the night of Christ’s birth. Christmas, with all its preparations, traditions, unified giving, is ultimately eternity being opened in your hearts. When we sung O Come All Ye Faithful, did not your hearts burn within you. That’s because it’s the call of the Word of the Lord to come and adore what has been set before you. What you do tomorrow from the quiet or the loud of your homes is a picturesque moment of what has been set before you, placed in your lap, opened, revealed – the fullness of time.
So, in time you can be joyful and triumphant, born is the King set on mount Zion – the holy Hill. As the Father spoke that new dawn: You are my son today I have begotten you.
That’s why we sing all ye citizens of heaven – let it be known the gift you get is citizenship in heaven, begotten from the Father. He reminds us every December 25th, today I have begotten you. You too as His heavenly children because first He set His son before you.
Now from that time forth we participate in what has been made known to us. Therefore come, let us go and find it, come let us adore Him…. You have another 364 days to ponder and treasure these things up, or how ever many days the Lord deems necessary to give you, in order to set your heart free to receive the greatest gift in the universe. So come, come all Ye faithful – behold, adore.
Glory to God in the highest and on the earth peace among those in called unto Him. Christ the light of the world has come. The Christmas light is here. In the name of Jesus + Amen.