Sermon: He Had to Come

Christmas Day Devotional
RUMC December 25, 2016

Christian theologian Paul Scherer once said that “Christmas is when God came down the stairs from heaven with a baby in his arms.”

By way of introduction, I would like to share a story that does not seem like it belongs this time of year, but in a few moments, you will see how it relates.

John Howard Griffin, was a white male who was determined to understand what life was like for African Americans in the “Deep South” in the 1950’s. Mr. Griffin believed that no one could truly understand what they experienced unless they were born black or if in some way had become black.  Mr. Griffin consulted a New Orleans dermatologist who prescribed a combination of drugs, sun lamp treatments and an assortment of skin creams to darken the pigment of his skin.  He shaved his head so as not to reveal his straight hair.  The treatments worked.  Mr. Griffin’s skin became the color of an African American.  Once that was achieved, he traveled to parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia so he could find out for himself what it was like to be a black male in a society where there was clearly prejudice in the 1950’s.  Griffin wrote about his experiences in a book called, “Black Like Me.”

John Griffin’s story is similar to what God had done for us. In order for God to truly communicate with humankind, He had to become like us.  That is why He sent Jesus.  My scripture text is John 1:1-4, 14.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
Verse 14: 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.
This is the Word of God.  Thanks be to God.

On this Christmas Day, this passage of scripture invites us to consider the mysterious and the miraculous. The birth of Jesus is evidence that God understands our need for identification.  Jesus had come to show us who God was.  By being physically like us, Jesus made our approach to God much easier to understand and comprehend.

Along these lines, many years ago, Dr. Stuart Nye Hutchison, the pastor of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church told this story: He knew of a boy who had lost his right hand in an accident.  The poor boy was self-conscious and totally embarrassed by his situation, and he withdrew from people.  Seeing his son’s struggles, the boy’s father said to him, “I know of a certain minister in another town who can help and I am going to bring him over to see you.”  The boy said, “I don’t want to see him.”  However the father would not take no for an answer and brought the minister over anyway.

When the boy looked up and saw that the minister had no right arm, just an empty sleeve, he was startled. The minster approached the boy and said, “I don’t have a hand like you.  I lost mine when I was a boy and I know how it feels.”  These two total strangers had begun to bond because they shared the same disability.

In the same way, God sent Jesus to us. He came as a baby and grew up to be a man to show us the way.

The prophet Isaiah said, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace, there will be no end. 

The mystery of Christmas is that Jesus was a real man and at the same time God. It was at his birth that the divine and the human natures were united.  That was when Jesus our Savior had become one of us.

Let me close with this poem.

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, the eve of Christ’s birth.
Many people were resting all over the earth.
The Shepherds were watching their sheep by night.
When all of a sudden they saw a bright light.
And what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a beautiful angel, high up in the air.
His face was all shining; his garments so bright.
That the shepherds began to tremble and with this great fright.
But as he came near, the words that he had said:
Soon gave them to know, there was nothing to fear.
For their wonderful gift they would find in a manger.
So leaving their sheep they went into the town.
To seek for this gift; they would look all around.
They came to the stable, and the covers they did lift.’
And there in the manger, God’s wonderful gift.
So pure and so holy, so full of God’s love.
They knew it was Jesus, God’s gift from above.
And so this Christmas, may our worship be sweet.
Let us love Him and praise Him for he is our King.

On this Christmas Day, we are reminded that God has given us a savior, who was born like us to show us the way. This morning as you reach out to the Lord, may Jesus the Son of God touch you in a very special way.