O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
What is God like?
What is God like?
Based on Luke 2:1-14
Preached on Dec. 24, 2014
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Dearly beloved, you who are loved by God, have you ever been told in advance that you are about to meet someone new? Maybe you're on your way to a Christmas party and you learn that someone important whom you have never met before is going to be there. It is kind of an unique thing, isn't it? You might become a little excited, or even a little nervous. Oh, its that person - I wonder what they're like? And, what are they going to think of me?
For weeks now we have been getting ready for Christmas. We've been getting ready to meet God in the flesh, our newborn king. There has certainly been a lot of excitement, and perhaps even a little nervousness too. And it's amazing how those same questions can pop into your head. What is God like? And what is He going to think of me?
Sometimes we think we know what God is like, but usually what this means is that we think He is just like us. We imagine god must be like us, because after all - we're pretty good right? But that is not Him.
Other times we may give up trying to know what God is like. He can seem so far away and hidden, and as powerful as He is, He certainly wouldn't want anything to do with insignificant little me. But that is not Him either.
This is the amazing thing about Christmas. God wants you to know Him, so He sends you Jesus. It might even surprise you to learn that the story of His birth, which you probably know quite well, reveals a lot more about who God is than first meets the eye. Jesus is the answer to our age old question: What is God like?
Think about it for a moment. What is all the fuss about at Christmas? Why do we make such a big deal about the birth of one baby boy? It is because in Jesus - God isn't far away or hidden. He is right here with us in our weakness, in our troubles. In Jesus, God has joined Himself to us. He has come to share our fate. He has come to share our woes. This is what God is like.
Mankind sat here in darkness- unable to know God - separated from Him because of our imperfection, our sin - saying things like "Give me a break. I'm only human." - so God came to save us from it. He was born, One who was not "only human" but also God, that He might make a new humanity in Himself. A new humanity that is connected to Him. A new humanity that is perfect in Him. This is what God is like, a Savior, One who comes to free you from guilt and shame and fear and uncertainty.
But that's not necessarily what we want, is it? I don't need a total savior. I just need a little help, that's all. The birth of Jesus is neither expected nor wanted. Nobody asked for God to send a Savior. And nobody wanted Him when He arrived. He was born with the filthy animals because there was no place for Him. Not even amongst his own family, in Bethlehem the town of his ancestors, where all His family had come for a census. No, nobody wanted God to come, but this is what God is like - He comes to save us though we don't even want Him to. He saves us despite ourselves - even from ourselves, because He knows we don't understand the depth of our predicament. We don't realize how dark the night has become.
So that is when He is born - at night - into the black depths of our darkness. Into the filthy mess of our sin. Into the cold, shiver of our death. These are the parts of Jesus' birth that show us His true love for us, because they show us how He is going to save us. This baby is not born to be cute. He is not born to live a full and decent life. This baby is born to die. His soft, infant flesh will be the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. He is wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger to show how His dead body would be wrapped in cloths and laid in a tomb. He has come to save us, and He has come to do it by putting Himself into our death. Putting the life of God into the death of man. This is what God is like- merciful and compassionate, even upon those who do not know Him, even for those who do not want Him.
And who is it - that God announces His Son's birth to? To the kings, and princes, the rich and the elite? No, but to lowly shepherds, the ones who sleep out in the field, the ones who live their lives following the dirty sheep around. For this is what God is like. He comes for the lowly. He comes for least. He comes for you.
Now, we might think that the holy angels would have been a little embarrassed to see their Creator pushed from the womb into a dirty barn. But they have never seen something so glorious. Their God is more merciful than even they can imagine. He is willing to humiliate Himself before all of them in order to lift up some. He is willing to come down into your shame in order that He might give you His honour. That He might bring you back to Him. That He might give you life. And so they sing, and they cannot contain themselves - all the heavens broke open upon those poor shepherds that holy night. I doubt they knew where any of their sheep were when all was said and done.
Tonight you have come to a Christmas party, and you have met someone important. And it turns out there was no reason to be nervous, because your God is a merciful Savior. He is Christ, your Lord. And He loves you so much that He was born to die for you. No matter what you are facing this Christmas season, you have One who has given everything for you, and He promises to carry you through cross and grave into His eternal kingdom. Behold, your newborn king. He is here for you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr