• Gospel Reading
  • In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is Born! Glorify Him! It’s wonderful to stand here so often on a Sunday morning and preach right after a Baptism or the reception of someone as a catechumen. We’ve been very blessed in this parish to have 7 Sundays like this in the last 6 months. Sundays when people stand up and boldly and publicly proclaim their belief in and reliance on the Risen Lord. Sundays when the flock of Christ is grown; when His Holy Church is continually filled with new life. A new life totally reliant on the Godman, Jesus Christ. We have a guarantee as Orthodox Christians that every step we attempt to make toward Christ will draw attacks from the demons. The life that Shannon sets out on, the life that all Christians are called to undertake, is a difficult path. A path of rejecting the ways of this world, the ways of self-gratification and sin and death, in order to accept the offer of life with God. The path is hard; in human terms we often lose and miss a lot to follow Christ. But we also have the guarantee that Christ is with us every moment. No matter how difficult or trying our lives may become, He suffered it all, and more than we could even imagine [God became man, and died—we can’t even think of this condescension], And He does it to offer us the opportunity to share in His life. He offers us everything He is, and everything He has. We don’t only look to our future salvation and eternity with God—Christ said that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. As Christians we can live with God even now. We can speak with Him, share with Him, lose ourselves in the eternity of His love. The world looks at Christians and sees what we’re “missing”—but for all the sin and passion that we miss, we have the chance to be with God. This morning’s Gospel reading reminds us that the new life offered to us by the Incarnation of Christ was God’s plan all along. Three times in the ten verses we read we hear how the birth and life of Christ fulfills “that which spoken by the prophets.” From the time of the Fall, salvation has been promised to mankind. But we couldn’t have imagined that God, the Creator, would become one of us and live the life we live, to offer us His salvation. God’s plan for man has always been for man to share in His life. That’s why we’re created in the image and likeness of God. We’re created in His image with the ability to attain to His likeness. We bear His similitude in our very beings. And by His grace, we can become like Him. And not just imitators of God—we’re offered the chance, in Christ, to participate in His very life. Christ became what we are, so that we can become what He is. Obviously, we won’t ever be God. That’s heresy. But we can share completely in His life—all the while remaining who we were created to be. It’s beyond words—God wants nothing more (He loves us so much that He died so this can happen) than for each and every person to be with Him, sharing in His glory and perfection forever, sharing in all that He is, being by grace (by His gift) what He is in nature. This is why the Birth of God in the Flesh is such an incredible event. It’s why we celebrate the Righteous Ones who prepared the way before Him. God came into the world to give us what we could never take for ourselves. He gave it freely. He gave it in humiliation. In death. In love. As we prepare to begin a new calendar year tomorrow, what are we doing in response to all that God has offered us? We’re here today, our presence making the claim that we’re Christians. That we’re the children of God, the heirs of the Righteous Ones and the brethren of the Saints. God offers us this chance to be with Him—but we have to start now. Life with God doesn’t begin in eternity. It begins now. And life with God isn’t a Church membership, or a tithe check, or a prayer rule. Life with God is moment by moment, day by day, spent in the presence of the Saviour. If we don’t spend our time with God now, doing His will on earth, we won’t have the chance to spend it with Him later. As we sit down and consider how we’ll spend 2007—put your relationship with Christ at the top of the list. How can I nurture my relationship with Christ? How can I grow in love? In prayer? In good works? What things does God have in store for my year? We can see the salvation that God desires for us, how much more it is than we would imagine on our own. But to live the reality of life in Christ, we have to begin turning our lives over to Him. So that He can fill us with His presence, and we can experience what it means to truly be children of God. And as the hymns for the Righteous Ones proclaimed, with David and Joseph and James we too can sing praises for our kinship with the Saviour. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!