Christmas address: “The first promise”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

To listen the sermon PRESS THE ORANGE BUTTON!

That’s an interesting selection of readings that we have for today. They come from both the Old and the New Testaments. From the very first book in the Bible, that is, Genesis, from the greatest among the prophets, Isaiah, from one of the so called smaller prophets, Micah.

And then from two of the men who were eyewitnesses of everything that Jesus did, Matthew and John the beloved disciple of Jesus. Plus Luke, who carefully inquired from the eyewitnesses everything about Jesus.

Now, let me ask you, – what is common to all these readings? What ties them together? The Gospel. The Good News. The news about what the true God, the Triune God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit has done for us.

All these reading come to us from … sure, from the Bible. On the one hand we can say that we are so, so privileged to have the entire message of God available in one place, all of it written down and easily accessible.

If only more people would actually read it. But on the other hand, having the Bible as we have it today can be as a small disadvantage to us as well. Can you come up with the answer ‘why so’?

The very external form of the Bible deceives us. It creates this impression that this is just another book. However, the texts which we heard today, they come from different times, so distant one from another that we can’t even comprehend it.

Thus our first reading came from Genesis 3. We don’t even know the details of how we got the record of these events. Yes, we know that Moses wrote them down in 15th century before the birth of Jesus.

But how long this account was around before that? Has it come done to us preserved by Noah during the Flood? And how long ago it was when this conversation took place in the garden of Eden? We just don’t know.

Then Isaiah and Micah. The prophets. If Moses wrote down Genesis 3 events in 15th century before Christ, then both Isaiah and Micah served and prophesised during 8th century before the birth of Jesus.

Meaning, there were more that seven centuries between Moses writing down our first reading and then these two prophets writing down their message. From then it took eight more centuries until God fulfilled His promise.

Then sometimes in the second part of the first century the Gospel accounts were written by Matthew, Luke and John. The readings that we heard in a few minutes, separated by a few carols, were originally revealed to God’s chosen servants and recorded for our benefit centuries and centuries apart. When we realize that, it allows us to see them in slightly different light, doesn’t it?

Now, back to the question ‘what is common to all of them’? The Gospel. The news that God has fulfilled His promise, that He gave already to whom… not to Isaiah, not to Micah, not to Moses… but much, much earlier.

In the very beginning. And we have this privilege to discover what happened as the Holy Spirit retells those events to us. Let’s look at the first promise. It is an amazing story. Our parents were still walking in the presence of God.

They could see Him as He was and converse with Him face to face. They were very good. But that was about to change. Just reflect on this. They rejected, they turned away, they distrusted, they disobeyed the One who had only a little while ago created them, forming Adam from the dust of the ground and breathing the breath of life into his nostrils.

How do we want to react when someone rejects us? You go and … What did our God do? He came looking for us. And what is even more amazing – who was the One who came looking of them? It was the Son of God Himself.

It was the Eternal Son who searched for Adam and Eve, and it was the Eternal Son who spoke to them? ‘What have you done?’ Sure, He knew what they had done. Sure, He knows what we have done, and He still comes searching for us.

He also knew what it will cost Him to restore what was broken. The Holy Spirit puts it in these obscured words: “I will put enmity between you (the ancient serpent, Satan) and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:8-15)

The Church knows this as the first Gospel. As the first promise given to humanity. That loving God will not leave us under the power of sin and death and deception of the ancient serpent. That He Himself, the offspring of woman, meaning born from woman only (and the Holy Spirit) will crush the serpent’s head, and that it will cost Him His own life.

The first promise. Given to the little creatures, who had just brought sin and death upon the whole creation! It is hard to understand God’s grace. There is something else we need to see in this tragic and divinely majestic event.

Is it hard to love someone who is very good? No, it’s easy. How else we could relate to such person? And if someone is very good, can we actually show the depth of our love? It is very different, when we have someone who is not good at all. Who rejects you, disobeys, ignores, hates, pretends you don’t exist.

If you are able to love such a person, then it tells volumes about your love. And this is exactly the love that Genesis 3 introduces and that our other readings elaborate. The Eternal Son shows His love giving up His life for us when we are still sinners, His enemies, who reject and ignore Him.

He gives this first promise, the assurance of His unchanging love, of His unshakeable commitment to us. He keeps reminding about His promise again and again.

As centuries and millennia go, He repeats it to Abraham, and Isaak, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and the prophets… again and again. “To us the Son is born…  His name is Mighty God”. (Is 9:6) In Bethlehem the One is born, “whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days”. (Mic 5:2) We “call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)”. (Mat 1:23)

And in days of Caesar Augustus, “when Quirinius was governor of Syria” (Luke 2:1-2) “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. (John 1:14)

The first promise was fulfilled. God’s mysterious plan of salvation that was kept hidden for ages begun to unfold among the most ordinary of people, in the most ordinary of places, and in the most extraordinary of ways.

We are recipients of the same promise. Except we already have witnessed its fulfilment. We know that the Eternal Son crushed the serpents head, and we know how much suffering it cost Him. This is how God speaks His love to us.

We are not waiting for that promise anymore. We are waiting for the other, – when the Son of God comes back in His divine glory for “when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as He is”. (1Jo 3:2)

I pray that today, when we sing and pray and read and listen and reflect on what our God has done for us, may the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of the Father would dwell with us richly and would help us to grasp the incredible depth of the loving heart of our God.

And then may He fill us with joy which is too much for us, and which we can’t contain and which spills over to all people around us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s