A Sermon for Christmas Day 2021
Trinity Lutheran Church
Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace. Amen.
Three verses in today’s Christmas readings are like bulbs on a string of Christmas lights shining gloriously this morning:
- “And the Word became flesh and lived among us …” John 1:14
- “He is the exact imprint of God’s very being” Hebrews 1:3
- “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce peace, who bring good news, who announce salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Isaiah 52:7
On this Christmas morning, as we celebrate the wonder of the Word becoming flesh and living among us … as we celebrate the mystery of Christ as the exact imprint of God’s very being … and as we hear Isaiah proclaiming the beauty of the feet of the messengers proclaiming peace … I’m thinking of Jesus’s feet! What better way to announce our faith in the incarnation – the Word made Flesh than to think about Jesus’s two feet and ten toes.
It should be noted, that when Isaiah talked about beautiful feet, Isaiah was not talking about foot models. He was not proclaiming beauty found in perfect feet without blemish. Isaiah was talking about the feet of messengers who literally ran from desert to village to town carrying news. These messengers were like text messages on feet – rather than sending a text, you send a messenger with your message (perhaps you’ve seen that commercial where a man shows up breathless at his friend’s door and says, “YES.” The friend says, did you just answer my text by running over here?)
The feet of such messengers would have been anything but beautiful by our standards of beauty. Nike, New Balance, Adidas sneaker technology was not available back then. The feet of the messengers would have been callus and perhaps blistered, dirty and unclean. Their beauty found not in perfection, but in their function.
Might we say the same about Jesus’s feet?
The beautify – and significance – not found in their appearance, but in their function. The truth is, we don’t know anything about Jesus’ feet. We have no idea what they looked like, but we do know what they did.
The feet of Jesus began like your feet and my feet: tiny little feet with tiny little toes. The infinite God who created the universe, shoved into a finite baby’s body with normal little feet. You know what baby shoes look like, right? Little tiny cups. Feet, and legs, too week to hold the few pounds of body weight.
Except for one story we’ll read in worship tomorrow, the scriptures don’t tell us about the child Jesus, but tomorrow we’ll hear that Jesus’s 12-year-old feet did NOT carry him back home to Nazareth with the rest of his family after their celebration of the Passover in Jerusalem, but carried him by himself into the temple. And there in the temple, his feet didn’t carry him off all over the temple, into mischief and trouble into places in the temple he shouldn’t go, but to the elders where he listened, and learned, and asked question. When Mary and Joseph finally found him after three days, Jesus responded where else would his feet have carried him, then into his father’s house?
We know that Jesus’s public ministry began with wet feet – feet wet in the river Jordan. Did Jesus feel sand and pebbles of the river bottom squishing between his toes as he was baptized by John? Did he stub his toe or hurt his foot stepping on the jagged edge of a rock at the river bottom?
Stepping out of the water, his feet then carried him directly into the wilderness for 40 days of temptation – at the end of that time he was ministered to by angels … did they massage his feet, did they anoint them with oil and dry them with their hair like Mary would do towards the end of Jesus’s ministry? We do know his feet carried him out of the wilderness and into public ministry – to his first disciples along the sea shore … did Jesus cool his feet in the sand along the water’s edge as he called the fishermen?
In his public ministry his feet carried him into crowds and up mountains. They carried him into boats and along the top of the water itself! They carried him into private homes and public temples, as Jesus taught, and healed, and announced the good news of the kingdom of God.
On his last night with his disciples, his feet stretched out behind him as he knelt to wash the feet of his disciples on the night of his betrayal and arrest. Peter wanted to wash Jesus’s feet, his feet might have welcomed that washing, might have welcomed the cool water and soap, and the touch of human hands? His feet might have said yes, but Jesus said no. His feet, like the rest of him, came not to BE served, but TO serve.
Finally, his feet were carried off, against their will, to face arrest and persecution. His feet were punctured with nails that held them to the cross. How beautiful are the feet of the messenger announcing God’s love and salvation – how beautiful those feet pierced with nails. And then blood stopped flowing into his feet. His body shut down and he died on the cross and was laid in the tomb.
For three days nothing. Dead feet. No movement. But then, Miracle of Miracles, there was a pulse! Blood flowed back into his feet! In the glory of the resurrection his feet moved again! And touched the ground again! And carried the weight of the living Jesus again! His feet carried him back to his disciples, back to Galilee, back into relationship with his disciples.
And then, according to scripture, the feet of Jesus ascended into heaven! Traditional icons of the Ascension show the feet of Jesus at the top of the icon with the rest of the Jesus having ascended above the icon. I don’t really like that icon of the Ascension, but what if when we look at that icon we hear Isaiah’s words: “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce peace, who bring good news, who announce salvation, who say “Your God reigns!”
Again, we know nothing about what the feet of Jesus looked like. They probably looked or smelled no differently than our own normal feet. But, we do know those feet were beautiful, because they carried Jesus Christ, God’s announcement of peace and salvation, into the world.
The Good News today, is that the word became flesh. The message that the feet of Christ carried into the world, is the message of salvation proclaimed FOR YOU, and for me, and for the world, on this Christmas Day. The feet of Jesus carried God’s announcement of forgiveness and reconciliation FOR YOU!
As you leave this place today, may the Word take flesh in you. May others proclaim the beauty of your feet, not because you have perfect feet, and not because anyone ever has to see your feet, but because in lives of faith, mercy, and justice you announce God’s salvation found in Jesus Christ.
To God be the glory! Amen.