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Private Confession: By Appointment

Behold! This Child!

December 26, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Galatians 4:1–4:10

Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
December 27, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Christmas 1
Behold! This Child!

What I am saying now is that as long as an heir is a child he is no different than a slave, though he is owner of all. Nonetheless he is under the control of guardians and administrators, until the date set by his father. In the same way we, also, when we were children were enslaved by the rudimentary elements of the world.

But in the fullness of time
God sent forth his Son

made of woman
made under Torah,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.

And, because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts who cries out,

"Abba! Father!"

So then, you are no longer a slave,
but a son,

and if a son,
then an heir of God through Christ.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved by those things that are by nature NOT gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather, to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles, whose slaves you once were? (Galatians 4:1-10)

--
Today, on the first Lord’s Day following the Christ Mass, we have a feast set before us like no other.

It could be compared to one of the over-the-top buffets you find in Las Vegas – which is not your normal $10.99 buffet – but the price is worth it! The selection of delicacies is to die for. The food of the gods!

But the only problem with it is that you would need the 12 Days of Christmas to take it all in, and truly enjoy it. But even then you would be no farther ahead, because you would walk away as dissipated as you ever could be. You would pay for it with sluggishness of body and mind, and again on the scale, and on your credit card statement when you got home.

But that can never happen with the Bread of Heaven, with the exalted Flesh and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ that we receive in heaven today.

Flesh that in the fullness of time” resided in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, lay in a manger, suffered a sinners reward, died on the glorious cross, and rose again to New Life “for us men and for our salvation.”

Behold! This Child!

That is the word we receive from Simeon in today’s gospel, “Behold! This Child,” and O how reverent a gospel it is!

Now one of the rules we should learn if we wish to comprehend Scripture is to understand the meaning of a word that is employed over 1,000 times in the Bible: the word “Behold”!

Simply translated it means: Pay attention! Note well, because something important is about to be said. “Behold! This child!”

But in church vocabulary it means much more. It doesn’t just mean to “lookie here” or as it is in the Spanish “mira, mira”. But when we encounter the word “behold” in the Bible it is an invitation to participate in the thing we behold.

We heard the message from the angel on Christmas Eve, "Fear not, for BEHOLD, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11). And we hear it again today, from the lips of God’s Prophet Simeon, “Behold! This child!”

And, upon hearing this message, be it from angels, from Simeon, or from the 84 year old Widow Anna the prophetess, we can break out of our sin-imposed prison, lay aside our shame, and let the gladness of Christmas fill these vessels of clay.

Yes, today the church, by the agency of Sacred Scripture, invites us to share fully in “This Child,” in all that he IS and all that he DOES.

“Behold! This Child!”

But how do we behold him, and participate in him? Getting the answer to that question right is every bit as vital as Child who was born, the Son who was given.

So how DO we do it?

We are doing it now!

Yes, it is a major error to think that our participation in Christ is something that occurs only between our two ears and within our emotions.

Not that those are excluded!

We should intentionally think Christian thoughts, read and study Scripture and Christian writings; submit ourselves to Christian teaching, and deliberately pray the prayers of the church of which “Abba! Father!” – the Lord’s Prayer – is the crowning jewel and glorious headdress.

But our access to Christ:

*to his birth which restores our humanity;
*to his instruction by which we learn to live sober and godly lives;
*to his suffering death and resurrection which cleanse us from our grievous wrongs

Our access to these is the thing we are engaged in at this time: This mass which is “The festal gathering, and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.” (Hebr. 12:22)

Yes, it is here in Holy Worship that we are blessed with Holy Vision to “Behold! This Child!”

And how could it be otherwise, for at every Mass Christ is born among us, in our midst, in the flesh, in the Blessed Sacrament.

O come! Let us adore him!

O come! Let us rejoice greatly in the LORD.

O come! Let our souls exalt in our God.

For he has clothed us with the garments of salvation; he has covered us with the robe of righteousness; he has shown us his Holy Arm.

He has, moreover, given us his Spirit which is not a Spirit of fear in the face of sin, death and Satan – but a Spirit of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

Yes, God intervenes into the affairs of men by “This Child”. He disrupts the tyranny of the devil, restores our blessed humanity; and demonstrates his good will towards all men, and his love towards all men by “This Child.”

Behold!

Let us know, also, today, that his salvation goes out to the ends of the earth. This is no exaggeration, but rather an aspect of the holy Christian faith that few Christians understand.

Namely that our liturgy does not only go up to God, but it goes out to, and blesses all the nations. (Gen. 12:3)

We have a first hand, if negative, demonstration of this fact in the past 9 months when the church of Jesus Christ closed down across the planet. When the worship of God ceased, the Lord’s Prayer remained unprayed, no absolution was heard, and above all no Holy Communion realized.

Note the lunacy that has erupted; the fear, panic, poverty, loneliness, hopelessness, mental, physical and social illness that now defines the whole world; and makes the hearts of men melt.

Note how many who “hungered and thirsted after righteousness” asking for bread, were given a snake instead. And who asked for an egg, but were given a scorpion instead.

Only This Child, and the flesh and blood communion we have with him by the church’s Word and Sacraments, can save sinners, nourish and bless the world.

“Behold! This Child!”

For it is here that the Royal Priesthood intercedes for “the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.”

Here that “the kingdom of this world becomes “the Kingdom of our God and of his Christ.”

Here that the whole sin-drenched, dissolute, debauched, besmirched, and soiled sad enterprise of humanity is transformed into:

“A crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD!”

“A royal diadem in the hand of our God!”

“Behold! This Child!”
“Behold! This Child!”
“Behold! This Child!”

Amen.