“We are God’s children.”
Candle Lighter: “See how very much our Father loves us...”
Response: “…for he calls us his children.”
Scripture: I John 3:1-3
3 See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. 2 Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. 3 And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
There was a line in yesterday’s closing prayer which captures perfectly a phrase we used a couple of days ago,“the Great Exchange.” These few words of the prayer express so perfectly and succinctly the mission of Christ. “[Jesus] comes to bring God to man and man to God.” High Priest, Bridge, Incarnation. Because God has come to man in human form, man can retain his humanity in approaching a holy God through the only holy human being, Jesus Christ. Because Jesus became a child, it became possible for humans to become the “children of God.” It is essential that Jesus be fully human or the possibility of a relationship between human being and the Creator God is not even possible. For the most part, the divinity of Christ escapes the mind of the non-believer. This person has no concept of the reality of another world. The idea of human beings connecting and communing with a holy God is a fantasy, a theoretical idea, an unprovable concept to them. Hence, Christmas is a happy celebration on the order of Thanksgiving in the states, or some other national holiday. But the celebration of Christmas is not simply the remembering of an historical event long ago like we might celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Christmas is a reciprocal event. Throughout the world, we have children who don’t know to whom they belong. They are orphans in search of a Father. We have a world and culture searching for meaning. Searching by trying to redefine what a marriage is or means; searching through having all kinds of gender classifications, searching for a political identity, searching for meaning through various justice issues, searching for truth by creating “their own realities,” searching for spirituality through various religious encounters. Without overstating, the birth of Jesus brings all those searchings to an end. “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism) The Creator has made humans to enter and be in communion with the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How often have you heard said of a son, “He looks just like his father.” Jesus’ own words were, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Our identity is found in Christ and in nowhere else. He is the starting place in my finding out who I am. Our prayer today is that as his adopted children, we orphans would look more and more like our Father. After all, we are now related by blood, the blood of our adopted big brother.
Music: “The Wexford Carol” Alison Kraus and Yo Yo Ma
Three in one, one in three, God of my salvation, heavenly Father, blessed One, eternal Spirit, I adore thee as one Being, one Essence, one God in three distinct Persons, for bringing sinners to thy knowledge and to thy kingdom. O Father, thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me; O Jesus, thou hast loved me and assumed my nature, shed thine own blood to wash away my sins, wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness; O Holy Spirit, thou hast loved me and entered my heart, implanted there eternal life, revealed to me the glories of Jesus. Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise thee, for love so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous, so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory. O Father, I thank thee that in fullness of grace thou hast given me to Jesus, to be his sheep, jewel, portion; O Jesus, I thank thee that in fullness of grace thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me; O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of grace thou hast exhibited Jesus as my salvation, implanted faith within me, subdued my stubborn heart, made me one with him forever. Let me live and pray as one baptized into the threefold Name. Amen.
― The Valley of Vision, p.3
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