Christ Lutheran Church
December 31, 2023
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
“What I am saying is that for as long as the heir is a child he is no different than a slave, though he is lord of all, but is under guardians and tutors until the date set by the father. Thus we also! When we were children we were utterly in thrall to the elemental principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born under the Law, in order to redeem those under the Law, so that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts that cries out, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son - and if a son, an heir of God through Christ. (Gal. 4:1-7)
Beloved in Christ apart from the miracle of Christmas, humanity dwells in a bubble!
From time to time the world might get a glimpse, or think, or hope that there is something outside the bubble; something better; something that satisfies; a place of peace and rest – but we cannot for the life of us figure out what it is, or how to get there. And so we remain enclosed in a bubble that Saint Paul calls the “elemental principles of the world,"
What does it mean to live in that bubble?
It means to be born, to struggle, to live, to die and then as far as anyone in the bubble can tell, to be lost and gone forever, so that in a few short years no one will ever remember that you lived; and that everything you learned, became and accomplished dies with you.
Not only are we “earthborn” as the hymn says, “Earthborn they are and soon decay,” but we are earth-bound as well – always dragged down and unable to escape the gravitational pull that sin and death exert upon us.
The patriarch Job (14:2) says it this way:
"Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not.”
And in the 90th Psalm Moses says it like this:
“You return man to dust and say,
"Return, O children of man!" …
You sweep them away as with a flood;
they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
Solomon also weighs in:
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A generation goes, and a generation comes,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and hastens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and goes
around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its circuits the wind returns.
Or to use Saint Paul’s words, to be in thrall to the “elemental principles of the world” is to be “Without hope and without God in the world.” (Eph. 2:12)
This is the brutal existence that was forced upon countless millions of people under communism. They were intentionally denied the glorious liberty of the children of God. They might just as well have been vegetables. They were born, they lived, they drank vodka, then they died and were gone – never having gained liberty by Christ.
But communists or not, humanity needs no help to live in the bubble – it is our comfort zone, our happy place, no matter how miserable we are.
Were it not so the world would eagerly answer the gospel call, “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
Were it not so the world would run to the first glimmer of light that shines through the darkness like the Magi did. We don’t know what they knew that caused them to follow the Star, but they saw a possible way out of the bubble and they took it. So certain, or at least so hopeful were they, that they brought precious gifts with them to lay at the Lord’s feet in the fullness of time.
For a green bean or a dolphin to live inside of a bubble is no great loss. These are not created as man is – to be like God and to look like God. They have no soul; no capacity to do or become anything more than they are. But we are different, very different and superior! to the elements of the world.
Human beings are not the cancer of the earth that progressives want you to believe. O how they love to hate themselves! Though they don’t believe in sin or judgment, they punish themselves with self-loathing.
But like the child in today’s epistle we are “lord of all,” even if it is not evident at this time because of sin’s thick darkness. The earth is not our mother, nor the rivers or rain forests our betters. All those were made for us, and given to us by our God for our benefit!
Will we be good stewards? Yes. But we will not make a religion of it; and as for those who do it is a sure sign that they are living in the bubble, captive to the elemental principles of the world.
But because of our dear Lord’s appearance in the flesh. Because he who was equal with God “made himself nothing; took on the form of a servant; was born in the likeness of men; found in human form; and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross…” because of Jesus’ great love and sacrifice – we are no longer slaves. No longer slaves but heirs of God in Christ. Children who boldly and confidently call out to our God by the familial terms: “Abba!” “Father!” Now this is a wonder to behold!
Paul’s reference here is to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, the Lord’s Prayer, whereby the redeemed of Christ have direct communion and communication with the Almighty, Omniscient, Eternal and Living God IN WHOM we know “live and move and have our being.” (Acts. 17:28)
And even if we still live among the elemental principles of the world: assaulted day and night by the sin, death and misery that surrounds us, the bubble is now broken! Broken so that our prayers ascend unimpeded to the Father of all mercies and God of all consolation. And his aid always flows down to us, likewise unobstructed. Indeed because “the Word was made flesh and dwells among us,” we are sons of God, and heirs of God with Christ.
Christ is born, glorify him!
Christ comes from heaven,
go forth to meet him!
Christ is on earth, exult!"