Worshipping The Triune God of Unconditional Love–Light (Love) Vanquishes Darkness (Hate): the
Peter Wehner, an opinion writer for The New York Times,writes, “In his book What’s So
Amazing About Grace?Philip Yancey describes a conference on comparative religions where experts from around the world debated which belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith. C.S. Lewis happened to enter the room during the discussion. When he was told the topic was Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions, Lewis responded: “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”It is true. Only Christianity places “grace” at the theological core of its belief system. And that is important, my friends. That is the good news of Christmas. It is when we are embraced by God’s unmerited favor and embrace God who loves us unconditionally that we see life in a new way in that the Light (Love) of God has vanquished the Darkness (Hate) that the world and others hurl our way on a daily basis.
Isaiah 9:2-7 describes a people who once walked in great darkness and saw a light which increased their joy, released their burden and removed their oppressor. Why? A child was born. And this child had a name. In the naming of a child, great care is taken to choose the name that will bring distinction to the new life. Jesus’ name derived from the Hebrew Yehoshua means “Yahweh is salvation.” Jesus is the name given to the son of Mary and Joseph. Jesus is the promised Messiah who as God incarnate is God’s self-revelation who brought salvation to the world. Isaiah 9:2-7 states other names for Jesus. They are:
Immanuel: This Jesus is God present with his people.
Wonderful Counselor: This Jesus is God. He will show us the way to new life.
Mighty God: This Jesus is God. He brings salvation and justice.
Everlasting Father: This Jesus is God. He provides and cares for us.
Prince of Peace: This Jesus is God. He is the One who brought and continues to bring the Reign of Peace on earth.
Son of Man: This Jesus is the “Son of Man” which is from the Hebrew ben adam.Ben Adam designates a collective humanity or an individual within the collective humanity. The first Adam is representative of you and me; the second Adam is Jesus, which is representative of whom we become through faith in Jesus.
Again, Peter Wehner writes, “Grace is different. It is the unmerited favor of God, unconditional love given to the undeserving. It’s a difficult concept to understand because it isn’t entirely rational. There’s a radical equality at the core of grace. None of us are deserving of God’s grace, so it’s not dependent on social status, wealth or intelligence.”This Light (Love) of grace vanquishes the Darkness (Hate) of exclusion. We worship the Christmas Child, Jesus, tonight. Sandra Maria Van Opstal writes, “As long as our worship makes people feel excluded or in constant visitor status, we are not accomplishing the ministry of biblical hospitality.”Who is this welcoming, inclusive and loving Jesus? Well, it’s not the…
Political Party Republican Jesus, who is against tax increases and activist judges, for family values and owning firearms or the Political Party Democrat Jesus, who is against Wall Street and Wal-Mart, for reducing our carbon footprint and printing money.
Revolutionary Jesus, who teaches us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, and blame things on “the system.”
Good Example Jesus, who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you.
The welcoming, inclusive, grace-filled and loving Jesus is…
the Son of the living God. God in the flesh; the one to establish God’s reign and rule; the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.
the Creator come to earth and the beginning of a New Creation.
the Christ predicted through the Prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist, not a reflection of the current mood or the projection of our own desires. He is our Lord and God.
Jesus is calling you by name. Wehner remarks, “If you find yourself in the company of people whose hearts have been captured by grace, count yourself lucky. They love us despite our messy lives, stay connected to us through our struggles, always holding out the hope of redemption. When relationships are broken…it’s grace that causes people not to give up, to extend the invitation to reconnect, to work through misunderstandings with sensitivity and transparency.” When you respond to God’s calling, it is good news for the world. You then represent what a human can look and behave like as envisioned in God’s desire. Isaiah’s voice on Christmas Eve reminds us that salvation is not merely a spiritual victory that works like a lullaby and lulls us into an individualistic complacency. To the contrary, the Christ Child took on the power of darkness, the tools of war and injustice, unjust laws and the rod of the oppressor. And in the name of Jesus, we join that mission.Believe in Jesus. Embrace the Light (Love). It vanquishes Darkness (Hate). This is the good news of Christmas. Merry Christmas.
Peter Wehner, The New York Times, December 23, 2018.
Sandra Maria Van Opstal, The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World(Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2016), 63.
Adapted from Kevin Young, “Who Do You Say That I Am?” from his DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed blog (posted June 10, 2009).
This paragraph was influenced by Alan Gregory and Thomas G. Long in Joel B. Green, Thomas G. Long, Luke A. Powery and Cynthia L. Rigby, editors, Connections, Year C, Volume 1 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018), 19-20 and 63-66.