From Heaven Above, The Gift of Glory

December 25, 2016 –  Christmas Day

by Pastor Pete Scheele

Grace and peace to you as you live in the assurance of God’s love, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Read John 1:1-18


Merry Christmas and I hope that you all have or will receive and enjoy all that gifts that God want to give to you on this Christmas morning.

Have you ever met a famous person? Many of us have a thing about famous people. We want to know all about them. Celebrities are like a magnetic star riveting our attention, sometimes to the point of our being transfixed by them. When someone tells us that they know a celebrity personally, our first question is usually, “Wow. What is he or she really like?” The tabloid press and media makes its money off of our desire to know all about the rich and famous.

Now that that is said, many famous people don’t want to be known. They complain about the paparazzo’s relentless intrusion in their lives. They disguise themselves when going out in the public. They protect the privacy of their families and when asked a very personal question by a reporter, they often don’t answer it or end the interview and leave the room. 

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

God wants to be known. Christmas is about how far God is willing to go to be made known to the ones He loves. When John says, “The Word became flesh,” he is describing Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, as God’s premier self-revelation in human form. In other words, if you want to know who God is, the one who so deeply wants to be known by you, then look at Jesus Christ. To see Jesus is to see God. “Whoever has seen me,” Jesus once told his disciple Philip, “has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

Call it an invasion. Call it a giant step down from His throne. Call it the great humbling. Call it the incarnation. God makes Himself known by coming as a human being, born of a woman, to live and be among us. He won’t be found hiding in a palace or a temple either.  Upon his birth in this world He was laid in a manger in a stable. The Apostle John puts it this was, He “dwelt among us.” More literally, He “pitched his tent” with us. God has a history of immersing Himself in His creation, walking with Adam and Eve in the garden, visiting Abraham and Sarah and eating with them, pitching his tent and tabernacling with the wandering Israelites and in the temple of Jerusalem.  And now this, God incarnate, in the flesh, lives and walks among us!  That’s right, God was conceived in the womb of a virgin, born of a woman, was laid in a manger to keep warm, grew up with brothers and sisters, work with His earthly father as a carpenter and the rest of His live is recorded in the four Gospels about Him.

Look at the incarnation this way. If someone really wanted to know you, I mean, really get to know you as you really are, where would you be, and what would you be doing? Where would they find the real you? Reading a story to a child? Creating something beautiful? Making people laugh?  Working hard at what you enjoy doing or don’t enjoy doing? Another way of saying this is, “Where and when does the glory of being you shine through the best?”  That’s where God wanted to be with us in every way.

When God contemplated this question, the answer was, “They’ll find the real me in my Son, living among them as one of them.”  The Apostle John says it this way, “We have seen His glory, the glory of the Son from the Father …” Sure, the Apostle John was quiet possibly thinking of the glory he saw when Jesus was transfigured before his eyes on the top of a mountain, but he was also thinking of all the other glories that made God known to him in Jesus. The glory was there as Jesus healed a leper, gave sight to the blind, caused the dead to live again or taught the people on a hillside, why God’s glory was even seen when He was “lifted up” on a cross, His glory was there in the good times and the bad. (Jn. 12:32)

When the Apostle John finally gets to answering the question, “From what you saw in Jesus, what is God really like?” he says that Jesus is “full of grace and truth.” The Apostle John is overwhelmed by the generous love of God he sees in Jesus Christ. In verse 16 of his first chapter of his gospel he writes, “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” Grace is what the Apostle John sees in Christ, “grace upon grace,” gift after gift after gift given to us that’s undeserved, that’s grace. In other words, Jesus embodies the relentless, limitless, and constant love of God for us.  And it didn’t start with a tiny baby born on Christmas Morning.

The Apostle John saw truth in Jesus as well. Later in his gospel he remembers Jesus saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus embodies the way and truth about God. He didn’t come just to teach people about God. He came to show people what God is like in every way. To know Jesus is to know the way and truth about God. To know the way and truth about God is to be set free from the fear, the guilt, and even death itself in this world (Jn. 8:32).

Over the past Advent season, we have opened up and looked at 5 gifts from heaven above, which come to us through Jesus Christ. We can pray today with the five-year-old who on Christmas night may have almost quoted Psalm 51:11 accurately, almost that is as he prayed, “O Lord, cast me not away from my presents.” Among the cherished presents we have in Christ are the gifts of hope, love, peace, life, joy and today we are reminded of the gift of glory. “We have seen His glory.” Glory is the gift of knowing God up close and personal in Jesus Christ, and to know Him is to love Him and to know how much He loves us.

I began today by saying, “Merry Christmas and I hope that you all have or will receive all that Gifts that God want to give to you on this Christmas morning.”  Some of those gifts are the gift of Hope, the gift of Love, the gift of Peace, the gift of Life, the gift of Joy and the gift of Glory.  All these gifts come from heaven above and they will always be given to you through God’s Word becoming flesh and dwelling in you and me through God’s Word and Sacraments.  God wants you to have all these gifts from Him in your life now and for all eternity.  Yes, God is just like any other gift giver, He hopes that you will cherish all of His gifts and that you will hold onto them and cherish them in your life always.  So, Merry Christmas and may the glory of God shine from your life to all those around you this coming year. Amen.

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