Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord
Love caused Thy incarnation, love brought Thee down to me; / Thy thirst for my salvation procured my liberty. / O love beyond all telling, that led Thee to embrace / In love all love excelling our lost and fallen race.O LORD, HOW SHALL I MEET THEE
“Love caused Thy incarnation.” “Love brought Thee down to me.” We so easily speak of God’s love—we so easily echo what the Apostle St. John says, “God is love”—but what does it all mean? We repeat the words of the Psalmist and various prophets who say, “God’s love endures forever,” but when we try to conceptualize love—when we try to visualize “God is love”—we don’t know where to begin.
One place to begin is the exodus. God led His people out of the land of slavery. He had promised great things for them on oath—land, children, wealth, and prosperity—He was as a husband to them. Yes, there is one picture of love, one that God used of Himself in the prophets, especially Jeremiah. But see what love for His bride—the people of Israel—compelled Him to do: He took them by the hand to lead them out of that land of bondage. As it is written:
And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. (Deuteronomy 4:37-38)
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)
Students of typology will tell you that the exodus and God bringing His people out of Egypt, the land of slavery, is a type of Christ. For it is in Christ the God leads His people out of the land of slavery—that land of sin and death. This is an oath He swears to all who are Baptized into Christ and made a part of His Bride—and there again the image of husband and wife is used. God’s love is such that He wants all people to be part of the Bride. Again, it is written: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16) and, “God our Savior...desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)
That brings us back to the hymn verse read earlier—“Love caused Thy incarnation.” God’s love for the world compelled Him to send His Son. The reason? Well, there are a few. Salvation on God’s terms means perfection—perfect lives lived according to His standard, the Law—we are unable to do that, but He Himself is. And, since we are unable to do it—since we fall short and sin—reparation is demanded in the form of death. The scriptures say, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends,” (John 15:13) and, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
That, dear friends, is the love of God for us. God demands death for sin—our death for our sin. But He would not see His cherished creation destroyed, or destroy itself. So, His love compelled Him to pay the price Himself. But, as He is Himself immortal, He had to take on our flesh in order to die. “Love caused Thy incarnation.”
And that is why we rejoice this and every Christmas—and even every Lord’s Day, if not everyday—and why we wait in eager expectation for the Lord Jesus Christ to return.
Love came down at Christmas / Love all lovely, Love divine / Love was born at Christmas / Star and angels gave the sign.LOVE CAME DOWN AT CHRISTMAS (BY CHRISTINA G. ROSSETTI)
“Stars and angels gave the sign,” as we heard in tonight’s text:
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
The sign of God’s love is now lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. When the shepherds arrived and looked in, they peeked at the love of God for them and for all men. They looked upon their Savior. They saw the Glory of God—His highest glory—they saw the one through whom God establishes peace on earth and goodwill toward men. And all of this was found, as was told them, in a baby just moments after birth, lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths.
And so, on this holy night, as we look into stable with those shepherds, we do so looking forward to a Good Friday and a Sunday following; that is, we see “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” For it is as St. John said,
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:9-11 NIV)
This love that you show to one another is yours to show only by the grace of God who first showed you His love by His Son, incarnate, born, died, and risen again, by which you are forgiven for all of your sins.