Jesus, our Brother, has Come into the Flesh

Christmas nativityNow in those days, it came to pass that a decree went out from the Prince of Darkness, the Prince of this World, that all the world should be taxed. And this was the first taxing when Adam chose to become Lord of his life and master of his soul. For when he ate of the tree, he turned his face away from God and burned incense at a different altar.

And all went to be taxed, for the wages of sin is death, and the tax on those earnings is eternal doom. And so each went to his city, each according to his house and lineage, each to his death.

And so, from sire to son and from maid to maiden, each would pass the curse down. So, Adam also went out from Eden, cast from the garden, to be taxed with Eve, his wife, who was with child. And so it was the days were completed for her to give birth.

And she brought forth her firstborn son and laid him to rest in this fallen world and called him Cain. For Cain means “gotten.” And Eve believed the promise of God that, through her, the serpent-crusher would come who would make right what she and Adam had made wrong. And so, at his birth, she exclaimed, “I have gotten a man: The Lord” (Genesis 4:1).

But soon she learned that Cain was not the promised Savior. He was as sinful as she. And Eve conceived again and bore a son, whom she named Abel. Abel means vapor or vanity, for Eve now knew that God would send the promised Messiah, not through her, but a descendant of hers.

Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time, it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering to the Lord, the firstborn of his flock.

And the Lord was pleased with Abel and his offering, for it pointed forward to the promised Messiah, the Firstborn, who would shed His blood for the life of the world. But the Lord had no regard for Cain and his offering. For Cain wanted to come to the Lord on his terms and in his way, expecting God to be pleased with his effort and sacrifice.

But God did not delight in that which was born from sin. And so, God warned Cain that sin was crouching at his door. But Cain did not heed the word of the Lord. He, instead, went out into the field where his brother Abel was keeping watch over his flock.

But there were no other shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks at night. And Abel was unsuspecting when it became night in the heart of Cain. And Cain slew his brother and spilled his blood on the ground.

And so, it came to pass, that the Lord came to Cain and inquired about his brother. Although his brother was a keeper of sheep, Cain refused to be his brother’s keeper and chose, instead, to be his brother’s slayer. And God placed a mark on Cain’s forehead, so all would know not to kill him.

And since then, we have been soaking the earth with the blood of our brother. And the archangel of evil and all his hellish host sang out, “Glory to Satan in the highest, and on earth, destruction and death to man!”

And then in the fullness of time, it later came to pass that there went out a decree from a lesser minion of darkness. An underling of the Prince of Darkness, Emperor Augustus, declared that all the world should be taxed. And so, each went to his city, according to his house and lineage.

So Joseph also went up from Galilee, from Nazareth to Judea, to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem. For he was of the house and lineage of David. He went to be taxed with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

And so it was that He, whom the heavens cannot contain, grew within the womb of His virgin mother. And the time came for her to give birth. While Caesar slept in his palace and taxed his empire, the King of kings slept with the animals and gave His eternal gifts at no cost.

But this Child, God in the flesh, who feeds the ravens still must be fed at the breast of His mother. For this king came in humility, not for his advantage or gain, but for the sake of His subjects—even though they were at enmity, in rebellion, against Him.

And even you, yes you, are at enmity with this King of kings come in the flesh. But this King does not make His list or check it twice to see who is evil or righteous, or naughty or nice. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death.

And when you dare to look within yourself in brutal honesty, you know why this Savior of the world needed to be born. You have seen your vileness and corruption. You have even seen the heart of Cain within you.

And yet this King and Savior comes, not in vengeance, but in mercy. Indeed, His mother, Mary, gives birth to a Son, who is even purer than a little lamb whose fleece was white as snow.   And as the Sacrifice of all sacrifices, He will die a crimson death, a bloody death, on the splintered wood of the cross. He will die because of us. He will die for us. And His death will be our life.

For you and I also have the curse of Cain. We, too, have slain our brother, if not with fists, then with our thoughts. Our hate-filled thoughts have murdered. Our lustful thoughts have fornicated. Our covetous thoughts have stolen. And our thoughtless words have slandered others.

And yet, this King of kings, born of the virgin, will not visit His vengeance on us. We need not fear. For He brings with Him good tidings of great joy. He comes to cover the murderous mark of Cain on our foreheads with the sign of the Holy Cross in Holy Baptism. For in His cross, we have been spared divine vengeance.

What we deserve because of our sins, God will not visit upon us. The wages of sin is death, and the tax on those earnings is eternal doom. But the baby born for us in Bethlehem has endured all that for our benefit.

And so, on this night, we have good reason to gather in our Father’s house. For on this night, we come to adore Christ the Lord, the little lamb marked for death, that we may have life, life in all its fullness.

Shepherds went here long before us. They came to the Holy Church, the fulfillment of the Temple, even Jesus Christ. They also came to Mary, the fulfillment of the Ark of the Covenant, who became the place where God made His presence known to His people.

The shepherds entered the Holy of Holies, and there, Holy Mother Church sent them out, appointed and ordained them, to do what the Church’s shepherds are to do: to preach Jesus Christ in the ears of others. And so those shepherds, those first pastors, told others of all that they had heard and seen.

But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

You have chosen the best this night, for you have come to your Father’s house. You too have pondered these things in your hearts. And on this night, your shepherd also preaches Jesus into your ears.

For we can give no greater worship than to receive God’s gifts, even the preached Word, that Jesus may be what His name says He is—Savior! Our best worship is not that we are here this night, but that in the dark of night, the God of heaven and earth comes here, to us, and for us.

Our greatest worship and service to God is not that we have resisted spilling our brother’s blood. No, it’s that Jesus, our brother, came in the flesh, and spilled His precious blood for us. His blood poured onto the ground, into we who are but made of dust, giving life and salvation.

How then can we walk away from this greatest of all mysteries and not be like mother Mary, pondering all these things in our hearts? For unto us, this day, is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Glory to God in the highest, for God is with us.  Amen.