In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
In Bethlehem, which means house of bread, our Saviour was born. It was an agriculturally rich area, which fed the surrounding regions. With His birth it became a spiritually rich spot which would feed the world. He was laid in a manger. A food trough. Such troughs in that area were made of stone. He was laid out on a slab. An infant teaming with life whose clothe wrapped body foreshadowed His life’s purpose. To be wrapped in cloth and laid on a stone cold slab for the sins of the world.
This wrapped up baby was laid out stone cold slab to pay the debt you owe. Not a debt to Satan. Not to yourself. Not to the world. A debt you owe to God. For not loving. Love is the essence of God’s Law. Those rights and wrongs, dos and do nots are sacrifices you make to love God and your fellow man. Love is sacrifice. The sacrifice of your self. The sacrifice of your selfish self-love.
He completed love. He did the Law. He loved to the full. His innocent death is your life. It is your promise of peace. Peace on earth. Peace with God. Peace in your heart. For that baby laid on the stone cold slab lives. He rose. He conquered death. His love is indestructable. His life will end. His flesh is life giving. He gives it to you. He lays it out on stone slabs. Slabs which are made for slices and stabs. Altars of stone or wood which deal in death and sacrifice.
Eat of this table, sidle up to this feeding trough and you will live. It will kill you, just as it killed Him. It will kill you to yourself. Kill you to your self-love. Kill you to your self-loathing. Kill you to your need to justify your own existence. For this slab of stone or wood on which that baby is laid out in His Supper gives you new life. A life dead to you, alive to Him.
That same baby, God in our flesh, feeds your souls. Not just in a mystical spiritual way. But in a physical way. You are not just a spirit. You are a body. God is not just a spirit. God has a body, born of Mary. His body feeds you. Not just spiritually. The baby on the stone slab. The flesh on the altar. The wine of life is God’s new deal. His new covenant. That is the Christian faith. A meal. A food. A baby for you. Not cuteness. Not cuddles. Life in flesh. Life for you.
That’s what happened to the shepherds. They saw the glorious angels. They saw the more glorious Son. Seeing they became angelic messengers to all who would hear. I pray that happens to you. That you would wonder at, treasure up, and ponder Him in your heart and mind, eating Him into your flesh, so that you overflow with Him. Tonight, tomorrow, and all yours days.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
---Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON