He has spoken to us by a Son

Hebrews 1:1-3a

Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.  He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.

A couple of weeks ago I encouraged you to find some ‘silence’ during Advent—a silence into which God might speak.

He has spoken to us by a Son.

His Word has become flesh, and dwells among us.

A newborn baby doesn’t say much, really; cries; maybe grunts appreciatively when fed, or held.

Contrary to the carol, Jesus almost certainly would have cried at some point; at many.  In these last days God has spoken to us by a Son—and the first sounds of that speaking, of the Son born to be Saviour of a people lost—the firsts sounds were the sounds of crying:  a recognition of cold, and hunger, and loneliness; and a validation of our own crying out for warmth, to be fed, to be held, to be OK.

God speaks to us by a Son who knows, as the letter to the Hebrews later elaborates—who knows our every feeling, every experience, every temptation, every weakness, every pain, every fear—“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?!”—those are Jesus’ words on the cross, echoing the crying in the manger.  They are the words of God who has become one with humanity.

God has spoken, in the past, to our ancestors, in many and various ways, the writer reminds us; through prophets—men and women who spoke on God’s behalf; spoke God’s message of promise, of warning, of command, of blessing.  Sometimes, in the past, we listened; sometimes we didn’t.  Often we didn’t.  Often we don’t.

You realize, of course, that when Christians get together to worship at Christmas—at “Christ’s mass”—at the celebration in Word and Sacrament of the Christ—we celebrate “forgiveness of sin”; we publicly acknowledge that when the angel announces that a Saviour is born, that is because we need a saviour, we need saving, we need forgiveness for our wrong-doing, for our stuff-ups, and for all the consequent disorder and disease and dismay and disappointment in the world.  We come because here forgiveness is spoken; grace is spoken; acceptance and inclusivity and belonging is spoken.  God has spoken this by his Son.

Out of this come an amazing joy and peace.  And hope.  God so loves the world!—that he gives his Son, speaks his Word of love and forgiveness and grace and compassion and mercy in Jesus.

God comes to us in our world—first in the manger, in home and street and school and workplace, then in the cross; in Word, in water, in bread and wine; in the fellowship of the body of Christ—and God says, “Listen!  I love you!  This is my Son!  Listen to him!  I love you!”

God continues to speak through prophets—we read and hear the Word given to his people thousands of years ago, in the Old and New Testaments; we hear the Word through faithful parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, through Sunday school teachers and school teachers and pastors and church friends and church acquaintances—God continues to speak through prophets and most clearly and directly in the Word of Jesus which we receive and which we give in our ministry with each other and in our community. 

Not everyone hears.  Not everyone hears Jesus; God’s Word, Jesus.  Our whole community wants to celebrate Christmas—everyone wants to celebrate something—everyone wants to have that good celebratory feeling about something—so Christmas seems to allow that good feeling through decorations and songs and foods; and something nice to do!—presents, family gatherings, “ho, ho, ho”.  In many respects, for many in our community, Christmas is exactly the opposite to Christmas!  It is a time to not-think-about difficult things….  No one wants to hear a message that might accuse, point the finger, uncover, remind us of failure, or remind us of loss and grief…

But, come here to worship, to hear The Christmas Story, to hear the Word—and you cannot avoid the truth.  We even sing about sin!; about redemption, salvation, freedom.  The Christmas story is about people who sat in darkness until the light of angels, of stars, and of God’s grace clears away the shadows, removes the questions or doubts about where we sit in all of this:  God has spoken through his Son, our Saviour—“I love you!”

We set up something special at Christmas.  And I don’t mean “the tree”, or “the manger scene”, or “the lights”.  We place God’s Word of grace in the centre of our worship, of our community, of our family—of our lives—God’s Word, the exact reflection of God’s glory, Jesus, here present, speaking to us constantly and consistently:  God’s love.  We won’t pack that away after a week or two; we won’t ‘let it go’ until next year; we will know and hear God’s voice with us constantly, every day, every moment, every situation and condition in our lives—God speaking his grace through his Son Jesus.

Of Jesus, of the Christ, at his festival, at Christ’s mass, God says to us, his children, whom he loves:  “This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him!”

This is the Word of the Lord!  Thanks be to God.