Our January 3 Sunday worship service is available on video through Facebook. You may view it without being a member of Facebook. All scheduled worship services until further notice will be online only with minimal in-person participation to reduce COVID-19 risks.
The January 10 Sunday worship service will be held without in-person attendance because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in our state. It is scheduled to be streamed live on the DeSoto Redeemer Facebook page. We will post a direct link to the recording here as soon as it is possible after the service.
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January 3 Sermon
Jeremiah 31:7-14 | Psalm 147:12-20
Ephesians 1:3-14 | John 1:[1-9] 10-18
Mystery: That is the theme for today, actually really for the whole Season of Christmas, and many other parts of the Church Year. The Mystery of the Incarnation which is also the very foundation of our salvation, God became flesh and lived among us.
Most people love a good mystery. It might be a mystery novel, a “whodunit,” or a mystery on television or at the movies. The joy of that type of mystery is trying to figure out the ending, before you get to the end. Who committed the murder? Who is the real bad guy? You usually have a pretty good idea who the hero is. There’s nothing like a good mystery. Ruth and I watch a lot of British mysteries. Sorry, they tend to be better written than American mysteries.
Mysteries are like puzzles. Many of us like puzzles. I personally am addicted to puzzles. I will sit up all night working on a jigsaw puzzle. But this year, Ruth gave me a Lego puzzle, sort of, of Harry Potter. It has instructions for assembly. Unfortunately, I think the instructions were done by the same people who do assembly instructions for IKEA, pictures only. I’ve got it half done, and have had to take it apart to correct something 4 times. But, I will get it done!
If you think about it, we are surrounded by puzzles and mysteries. We face them everyday. Why are we getting this kind of weather this time of year? It was warm for a fairly long time. Even the birds are confused, “Should we fly south or not?” Oh that’s right, we live in Missouri. Here the weather is a mystery period! There’s a new mystery this year. I bought my wife some black leggings for Christmas. She opened the present. And she took out of the bag a one piece black swimsuit. The bag even said black leggings! Did they transform in the bag after I wrapped them? It’s a mystery! Rather than Christmas, does this mystery relate more to the Transfiguration? Why do you put an even number of socks in the wash, and you get an odd number back? My wife wonders about that one a lot. Why do fans do strange rituals at ballgames; and believe that it helps their team win!? A friend of mine swears that he has a system to win at a roulette table, even though every time they spin the ball the odds start over again, in the house’s favor. So, there can be no system. I pointed that out to him one night. He listened intently, and then went out and won $900. That’s still a mystery to me. Those are common mysteries, especially the weather.
Today, we think of the uncommon, the extraordinary, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” Now there is a mystery. In the western Church, for centuries, we have tried to figure out the Incarnation. The Eastern, Orthodox Church, just revels in it. They just love having a mystery. In fact, just about every piece of Orthodox theology is firmly linked to the Incarnation, without answers.
But, we westerners have to try to figure it out. Why, and how, would God come to us, as a human being? How, is easy (don’t try to figure this one out), the virgin birth: “conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the Virgin Mary.” He comes to us fully divine, and yet fully human.
But we come back to why? The why part of the question is a bit harder actually. Why would God humble himself to become a human being, to experience and endure all that His creatures undergo? There are stories of kings in history dressing up as commoners and going out to be with their subjects, to try to understand them and see what their needs are. King Henry V, on the night before the Battle of Agincourt spent the night dressed as a common soldier and went among their campfires for that purpose. But, why would God become flesh and live among us?
One answer, which I like, is in the words of the Preface of the Holy Communion Rite, which we only say during the Season of Christmas (I would like to say it more often, but we only get it for two weeks). I will be saying them shortly. They read, “In the wonder and mystery of the Word made flesh you have opened the eyes of faith to a new and radiant vision of your glory; that, beholding the God made visible, we may be drawn to love the God whom we cannot see.” I like that as a possible answer. But that is still a bit incomplete.
The best answer for that comes a little later in John’s Gospel, in chapter 3, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” That clears up the mystery of the Incarnation quite a bit. Why does God come to us, as one of us? Because of love, love for us; and to save us from our sin. And, not just to save humanity, but to save the whole world. Indeed, it is through Christ, and Christ alone, that we are saved. Knowing this, perhaps we may now enjoy the wonder of this Mystery of the Incarnation.