Rev. Doug Floyd
Christmas Sermon 2022
Rev. Doug Floyd
We gather today to celebrate the wondrous birth of Jesus. With all our Christmas music, Christmas parties, and Christmas movies, it might be easy to overlook the true Christmas miracle: the birth of Jesus. In his birth, we behold the true and final King of Israel. At the same time, we behold the Son of God, revealing Himself in and through Jesus Christ. His life, death, resurrection, and ascension will alter time and space and all of human history.
In our Gospel reading today, there are no angels, no shepherds. There are no wise men. In fact, we don’t even see Mary or Joseph. We behold the Word become Flesh. We behold “grace and truth come through Jesus Christ.” As we behold our Savior, we behold the Father. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
Jesus reveals the goodness and lovingkindness of the Father. At the same time, he reveals the sinfulness of humanity. He has come to set us free from sin and death.
John opens today’s Gospel with a very clear parallel with Genesis 1. “In the beginning.” He tells us that the Word, who will be revealed as Jesus was in the beginning with God the Father. He also tells us that all things were made through him and without him was not anything made that was made. We learn that the story of the only begotten Son of God is about creation and redemption.
Even as Jesus reveals the love of the Father, He is revealing the love of God at the heart of all creation. If we read today’s Gospel in light of 2 Corinthians 5:17, we discover that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Then in Revelation 21:5, we hear the Lord say, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
This might help us see how John’s parallel with Genesis 1 points us to new creation. When the Son of God enters the human story as the baby Jesus, we see the beginning of new creation. In and through Jesus Christ, all things are being redeemed, all things are being made new.
What good news! The God of Israel comes down to save His wayward people Israel. Even as He redeems them, He redeems the Gentiles as well, and He redeems all His creation, making all things new in and through Christ.
7 How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
8 The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
9 Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
The coming of the Son is such good new all the world will eventually break into song, celebrating the gift of His life, the gift of His love, the gift of new creation.
If we look at Genesis 1 and 2, we might see some hints of how Jesus restores and brings new creation in and through His people. Here are a few words I wrote down when considering this work of God in Christ.
This list is incomplete, but it could give us a starting place to think about the life and work of Christ Jesus.
In Genesis, God speaks the blessing “be fruitful and multiply” to plants, birds, animals, and humans. This fruitfulness speaks of abundance. God creates a rich world of abundance: we must never believe the lie of scarcity. Though there may be times of famine and struggle, our God is richly generous and will always provide for His people.
He has created us to be fruitful in more ways than one. Galatians speaks of fruit of the Spirit. In this new creation, we bear the fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” This fruit of the new creation is a fruit that brings life and healing to relationships. We reveal the transforming love of Christ to all the world around us.
In Genesis, the Creator tells His newly created humans to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” In the story of broken, sinful humanity this dominion looks like oppression. It gives rise to all sorts of violence and slavery and destruction of earth and humans.
In the restored new creation, dominion takes the shape of serving. Jesus reveals an authority and power rooted not in violence but in self-sacrifice and lovingkindness. Though He will suffer and die, His resurrection will make the beginning of a new time, rooted in His love and life. His followers are freed from the enslavement of sin and death and are free to reveal His love and healing grace.
In Genesis 1:31, God beholds his creation and declares that it is very good. He calls us and all creation good. In fact, he repeats good. Creation in light of humanity is good good or very good. This word good means is at the heart of our conceptions of justice and beauty and even glory. Though man sins and grows old, we are made anew in Christ. The glory of God is upon us, and we are growing from glory to glory.
As God’s renewed humanity, we become a people who bring blessing in all that we say and do. Just as Adam was called to work the garden and name the animals, we are all given vocations in this world. Our work becomes a place where we reveal God’s love and grace.
Just as Adam named the animals, we speak, we name, we bless through our words. From blessing the server at the restaurant to blessing a family member or co-worker, we invoke the glory of new creation by the way we speak.
In Genesis, it is not good that man should be alone, so God creates Eve out of Adam’s rib. Husband and wife precede governments, churches, and all other forms of social organization. When Christ comes, He creates a new family that is not based in blood but in Spirit. In Christ, we have been made a new people, a new family that extends across time and space.
The Lord promised to Abraham that He would bless all families of the earth through Abraham’s offspring. In Galatians 3:14, Paul writes that “in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” As God’s family, we serve as a royal priesthood called to intercede for all the families of the earth.
Daily we cry out to the Father, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” We might understand this as a cry for the new creation to be fully realized in us, through us, and all around us.
In the weeks to come, I hope to reflect on how this new creation takes shape in these patterns from Genesis.
Today we celebrate the beginning of this new creation in the birth of Christ.