Sermon–December 27, 2015


First Sunday after Christmas

December 27, 2015

William Bradbury

Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 147 or 147:13-21, Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7, John 1:1-18

John’s Gospel proclaims today: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.” Therefore, on Christmas Day, we looked at the fact that when we want to know God—what God is like, what God does and thinks and feels—we look at Jesus Christ. We don’t look first to our own experience or our own reason or what the philosophers say or what the so-called experts of our culture say. When we see Jesus seeking the lost, forgiving sinners, healing the sick, and eating with outcasts, then we know this is who God is.  But that is only half the Mystery Jesus reveals to us:

John’s Gospel also says: “All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”

That is to say, Jesus is the blueprint of what a fully human person is and every person who’s ever lived is created by and through this blueprint.

If we want to know who we are, then we don’t first look to our experience or our reason or to the so-called experts of our culture to tell us who and what a human being is, we look to Jesus Christ, who is fully Man as well as fully God.

When we see Jesus seeking the lost, forgiving sinners, healing the sick, and eating with outcasts, then we know this is who we are.

So we look to Jesus to know who God is and we look to Jesus to know who we are.

So listen to the parable of the acorn—this version by The Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest, author, and spiritual teacher:

Once up on a time in a not-so-far-away land, there was a kingdom of acorns, nestled at the foot of a grand old oak tree. Since the citizens of this kingdom were modern, fully Westernized acorns, they went about their business with purposeful energy; and since they were midlife, baby-boomer acorns, they engaged in a lot of self-help courses. There were seminars called “Getting All You Can Out of Your Shell”. There were woundedness and recovery groups for acorns who had been bruised in their original fall from the tree. There were spas for oiling and polishing those shells and various acornopathic therapies to enhance longevity and well-being.
One day in the midst of this kingdom there suddenly appeared a knotty little stranger, apparently dropped “out of the blue” by a passing bird. He was capless and dirty, making an immediate negative impression on his fellow acorns. And crouched beneath the oak tree, he stammered out a wild tale. Pointing upward at the tree, he said, “We… are… that!”
Delusional thinking, obviously, the other acorns concluded, but one of them continued to engage him in conversation: “So tell us, how would we become that tree?” “Well”, said he, pointing downward, “it has something to do with going into the ground… and cracking open the shell.” “Insane,” they responded. “Totally morbid! Why, then, we wouldn’t be acorns anymore.” The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming an Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart, page 64-64


If we leave it here, we are left with the acorns wondering how in the world they are to achieve tree-hood, for from where would the courage come from to fall into that black earth and let go of their most prized possession—their acorn-ness.

But the gospel truth is we can’t do this on our own. So Jesus does it for us—his surrender to death is done for us, once for all. In his vicarious humanity we too are brought into his death and through death into our full life as sons and daughters of God.

As J. B. Torrance puts it: Jesus “carried our old humanity in himself to the grave that our old humanity might be buried in the garden [tomb] and renewed in him. Jesus arises from the dead, the first of a new creation, ascends now as our great High Priest to live for us in our humanity, in a glorified humanity, an eternal life of communion with the Father, to intercede for us ‘in the Holy of Holies’….But he does not do that alone. He pours out his Spirit on the Church at Pentecost to lift us up into that life of communion with the Father that we might participate in his glorified life, in his prayers, his intercessions, his mission to the world.” A Passion for Christ: The vision that Ignites Ministry, pages 57-58

So, Jesus is born, suffers, is crucified, and risen for us. He does for us what we can never do for ourselves.

Through Christ we participate in his knowledge of the Father. In Christ we participate in his knowledge of ourselves. With Christ we are one with God and one with each other, through the power of the Spirit.

Our worship of Triune God is not our work to find a way to God. Our worship is a participation in Christ’s eternal worship of the Father through the Spirit.

Come, let us adore the living Christ and say ‘Yes’ to him who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He makes us Oaks of Faithfulness, daughters and sons of the Triune God.