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Monday, December 24, 2018

God Sent Forth His Son, Born of a Woman - Christmas Eve Homily 2018

["Mother and Child" watercolor by Jehuda Rodan (1916-1985). Accessed on 24 December 2018 at Kodner]


Christmas Eve 2018
God Sent Forth his Son, Born of a Woman
Galatians 4.1-7
ALMIGHTY God, who has given us your unique, one-of-a-kind, only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure Virgin: Grant that we, being regenerate and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit ever, one God. Amen.

It’s an interesting situation. Paul could have said other things or just left well-enough alone, but he follows the path of the Gospel records to emphasize what would have been fairly unpopular in his day. It’s like he’s piling on objectional statements, one right after the other, stacking them on thick. And each statement is a classification in its own right.  When the fullness of time had come – not any earlier, not any later, but just at the right time – in fact, in Paul’s lifetime! God sent forth his Son – uh oh! Now we’re starting to get in deep. God has a Son? That was a problematic statement in that day; a difficult word in the 7th century when Mohammad penned his Quran; and a tricky and sticky concept in the 21st Century that wants a God-far-away who will only arrive on the scene at our beck and call. As a matter of fact, the Apostle has gone further and said God sent his Son – God is involved and sends his Son to a world that wants little to do with him or his Son; “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1.11). Truly things are starting to get messy. And then it gets downright awkward: Born of a woman. The Apostle could have just left that out and said “born,” or left it at the next statement “born under the law”. But no, he has to thump his finger into our chest and say “born of a woman”.

Following the Scripture’s lead, Paul is sabotaging an international, intergenerational, inter-millennial mindset that looked – and in most of our present age, still looks – at women as simply an essential service; a necessity but not a want. Throughout much of our huge planet and human history women are mostly treated as goods and wares. Yet Paul says that when God entered our world by sending his Son, that God intentionally, specifically, and clearly had him “born of a woman”. God’s actions at that first Christmas, and commemorated every year, announces to us in vibrant and vivacious ways that God likes to take those whom the world considers inconsequential and make them consequential! “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman”! “O that birth forever blessed, when the Virgin, full of grace, by the Holy Ghost conceiving, bore the Savior of our race” (“Of the Father’s Love begotten,” v.2); “Silent night! Holy night! All is calm, all is bright, round yon virgin mother and child” (“Silent night! Holy night!” v.1); “Christ, by highest heav’n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord! Late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin’s womb” (Hark! The Herald Angels Sin,” v.2). And the Gospel records are plush with tales of this humble woman, happy that God “abhors not the virgin’s womb” (O Come, All Ye Faithful,” v.2). And in full-blown confidence and trust in the goodness of this God who delights in making the inconsequential consequential she cheerfully yields to him, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1.38). Truly, “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman”! And so, Christmas unmistakably reminds us that God delights to take those whom our world considers inconsequential and make them consequential!

In fact, the aim of what God was doing When in the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman was to bring about new consequentialness to us and for us: (1) to redeem us (5a); to receive us by adoption (5b) and to raise us to revel in his richest joys and embrace (6-7). Or as one Christmas Carol puts it, “Fear not, then” said the angel, “let nothing you affright; this day is born a Savior of a pure virgin bright, to free all those who trust in him from Satan’s power and might” (“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” v.3). Christmas announces to us in vibrant and vivacious ways that God likes to take those whom the world considers inconsequential and make them consequential!

Pastor Mike

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