David Haberstock
December 25, 2018
David Haberstock
Pastor

Passage

John 1:1-14; Titus 3:4-7; Exodus 40:17-21, 34-38
Christmas Day

In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

Today behold anew a wondrous mystery! Let your ears be filled with the Shepherd’s song echoing abroad. (Luke 2:16-18) Not the mere mouthings of bashful working men, but the full throated chanting of the heavenly hymn. For it is the Angel’s song filling creation this day. (Luke 2:13-14) It is the Archangels themselves who harmonize. It is the Cherubim who hymn their joyful praise and the Seraphim who exalt His glory. All heaven joins to praise this holy feast, this mystery, of the Godhead here on earth, and a Man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and He that was lowly is by divine mercy lifted up. 

At His birth little Bethlehem resembles heaven; the star spangled skies ringing with angelic voices; and in place of the sun, Him who fills every point of creation, the Sun of Justice. But ask not how: for where God wills it, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; so He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God.This day He Who Is (Exod. 3:14), is Born; and He Who Is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. (Phil. 2:5-8) Nor did He become man by any loss of His Godhood (John 1:1-3), nor did some mere man increase by becoming God; but being the Word He became flesh (John 1:14), His unalterable nature, remaining unchanged. 

And so the kings too have come (Matt. 2:1-2, 9-11; Ps. 2:10-12; 72:10-11), and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominions, nor Powers, nor Principalities, nor any of the host of heaven which are by right His honour guard, but, instead they see Him treading a new and solitary path. He has come forth from a virgin womb. (Luke 1:34; Matt. 1:20-25)

Since His heavenly begotten-ness of the Father cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit too close or curious a scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of His human conception and birth we must learn to venerate in silence, not saying too much. We must accept that this mystery is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech. 

For with God we look not for the natural order of the universe, but we rest our faith in the power of Him who works. 

So what then shall I say to you? What shall I tell you? We behold a Mother who has brought forth; we see a Child come into this world by birth. (John 1:14) But the very manner of His conception I cannot comprehend nor explain. 

For in this case, Nature rested, while the Will of God labored. (Luke 1:35) What inexpressible grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, being without a body, has now put on my body, my flesh, which is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us He may teach us, and in teaching lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since we men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, we doubt whatever we do not see. Therefore, He has condescended to become far less than what is dignified of the Creator and shown Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt in us. (2 Cor. 5:7)

Thus, Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, built there for Himself a living temple (Ps. 139:13; John 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16) in which to dwell, and as He had willed, He formed there a man from the Virgin; and, clothing Himself in that flesh, this day He came forth (Ps. 2:7); unashamed of the lowliness of our nature. (Phil. 2:8)

For to Him it was no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. By this He causes His handiwork, which became the cloak of its own Creator, to be forever glorified! For just as the First Adam’s body could not be made till the clay had come into the Maker’s hand (Gen. 2:7), so neither could our corruptible human bodies be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker. (Phil. 2:6-9)

So what shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days (Dan. 7:9) has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, a Spirit, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies as an infant touchable by the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants’ swaddling bands. By His incarnation He has decreed that dishonour shall become honour, that disrepute be clothed with glory, and total humiliation is the measure of His Goodness.

For this purpose He took into Himself my body, my humanity, that I may become capable of containing His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit (Tit. 3:5-6); and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me. (Tit. 3:5-7)

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. For truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness poured forth and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been implanted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now speak with angels. 

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and a Man in heaven; on every side all things have gotten mixed together. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Why did He become flesh? So that He Whom heaven could not contain, a manger would this day hold. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, so that the Magi may more easily see Him. This day too the Magi have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star. (Matt. 2:2)

To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.

In +Jesus’ name, Amen.  

 

 

-based on St. John Chrysostom's "Homily on Christmas Morning" (347-407)

original found at: http://glory2godforallthings.com/2008/12/23/st-john-chrysostoms-christmas-homily/, accessed December 20, 2018.