Glory to God in the Highest, and Peace to his people on earth! Merry Christmas!
We sing this hymn every Sunday. It might seem redundant to some. Why do we sing it so often? Could God get tired of hearing this hymn so much?
Could a father get tired of hearing the words of his daughter, saying I love you?
Could a mother get tired of hearing her grandson saying, Mimi, I love you?
Of course not! And I do not think our Father in heaven ever gets tired of hearing our words of praise to him.
“we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.”
And he is our heavenly Father. He is not some capricious god who sites back and watches his people suffer. He is a Father who wants to be a part of his children’s lives.
We know this because he came to us in human form with all his divinity. No other god has claimed that he came to earth. In fact some other religions consider this as blasphemy.
Jesus did in fact come to us in the fullness of his divinity and the fullness of his humanity.
We have heard the story of the manger many times. Why would a mighty God want to be born as a human among the stinky animals?
Joseph and Mary had gone to Bethlehem because they were of the House of David, and this is where their family was. We read in Holy Scripture that there was no room for them in the inn. We automatically think about a hotel when we hear that word.
Actually, the Hebrew word can also mean a guest room, as in a family member’s house. Most likely other family members had gotten there first, so there was no room for Joseph and Mary. Instead they were offered the stable, which was usually the lower floor of a house in those days. There were not homeless and they were not foreigners, as some modern experts like to think. They were at home.
The prophecy of Isaiah that we heard earlier was to be fulfilled.
“The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Which means God with us.)”
The baby was given the Name of Jesus, as told them by the Angel Gabriel.
Jesus is a variation of the name Joshua, and is pronounced in Hebrew, Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves.”
The name was given to Jesus by his Father in heaven. That’s what a father does, he claims his child and names him.
At his baptism, his Father would say, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” Other translations say, “Today I have begotten you.”
Later in his life, Jesus would go to a mountain and be Transfigured before Peter, James, and John. Peter wanted to pitch three tents, but God had other plans.
As recorded in Matthew;
“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
No matter what some modern experts might say to convince people, God is revealed to us as a Father. And Jesus is his only begotten son.
And Jesus revealed him to us as Our Father. St. Paul would say, when we say “Abba, Father, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are his children.”
Why did this all happen? Why would Almighty God want to come down to earth to be born in this stable and be placed in a manger?
Of all the reasons I have heard, I think the best one is the most simple. Our Father loves us, his children. It’s really as simple as that. Rather than make us try to reach up to him, to the impossibly high mountain top, he came down here to be with us. Emmanuel means God with us.
Before he ascended back to heaven, he left us a way to be a part of him for ever. The Holy Eucharist, his Body and Blood. He did not say, “this bread represents my body.” He said, “This is my body,” and, “This is my blood.”
The Bread and the Wine that are offered to him on his altar become his precious Body and Blood. We do this to make him present among us again. This is no mere memorial meal, this is the real deal! This is Jesus!
Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
If nothing else, remember this. God the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ because he loves you. He wants you to know this and that whatever it is you might have done, he wants to forgive you. You are children of the Father, and he never gets tired of hearing your praise and thanksgiving. Offer them to him, and receive him in return.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth. Amen.