Topic: Biblical Verse: Isaiah 52:7
The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
December 25, 2013
Isaiah 52:7 and John 1:14
On this Christmas Day, I want to share with you some opening thoughts from the noted theologian, Dr. Seuss. These come from a well-known book of his – not How the Grinch Stole Christmas, as you might expect for this season,but The Foot Book, first published in 1968. It’s a book for beginning readers that celebrates feet. As with his other books for children, Dr. Seuss gets kids interested in reading because the words rhyme, the illustrations are great, and it’s fun. “Left foot, right foot; low foot, high foot; wet foot, dry foot; front feet, back feet; slow feet, quick feet. In the house and on the street, how many, many feet you meet.” It’s that image of feet that I want to focus on for the message today on Christmas Day, based on the Word of God from today’s Old Testament lesson, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” (Isaiah 52:7), and from today’s Gospel lesson, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word, for Jesus’ sake.
Of all the bodily features we possess – face, eyes, hair, physique, voice – our feet are arguably one of the less attractive. I suppose some of us may regard our feet as beautiful, but most of us have a more utilitarian view. Our feet become dirty and smelly because we use them so much throughout the course of the day. They take a pounding as we walk many steps, and being enclosed in shoes and socks for hours and hours, we end up with some pretty bad foot odor at the end of the day. Women, and increasingly more men, get pedicures to make our feet more presentable, especially in the summer season when people wear sandals, flip flops, or even go barefoot. But even then, those feet can get pretty grungy. And although they don’t technically grow, as we age our feet flatten out and tend to become wider.
Baby feet – now that’s a different story! Those cute little toes on those chubby little feet, who can say they’re not beautiful? Adult feet are one thing, but baby feet are quite another. And today we celebrate Jesus’ beautiful baby feet, born of Mary in Bethlehem’s manger. This is the eternal Word of God that called all things into existence, now made flesh in a tiny helpless Infant. The Lord of heaven and earth must now be nursed by his mother and have his diapers changed, just like any other baby. And those baby feet – how Mary and Joseph must have loved those tiny baby feet of their Son! Parents love to take the feet of their little ones in their hands and blow on them, making those funny noises that tickle those tiny feet, making babies laugh with delight. I wonder if Mary and Joseph did this for their little One, that Word made flesh? I am sure they did. Even if they did not fully understand everything about their Son – the angelic messengers, the shepherds’ visit, the worship of the wise men – they loved him, baby feet and all. This is the Word made flesh, and his feet are indeed beautiful.
The cute little baby feet of the Word made flesh would grow into the quick little feet of childhood, giving way to awkward adolescent feet when everything seems clumsy, and finally leading to full-grown adult feet. Those beautiful feet which traversed Galilee and Judea brought the good news of the kingdom of God, his pardon and his peace. Those feet of Jesus, together with his hands, would be nailed to the cross, just like the Christmas carol tells us: “Nails, spear shall pierce him through, the cross be borne for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary” (Lutheran Book of Worship #40, stanza 2). Through the blood which flowed out from the nail-pierced beautiful feet and hands of Jesus, we have been given a gift that no amount of money could ever buy. Through Jesus’ cleansing blood, we have received forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. The New Testament is replete with references of people who bowed themselves at Jesus’ feet, seeking his mercy and healing power, who prostrated themselves in worship at his feet. We, too, bow before the feet of Christ our newborn King, realizing that there is nothing in us which merits or deserves the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation which He freely offers us. This is God’s Christmas gift to you and me, and to the world.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” This means that Jesus’ messengers also have beautiful feet. Whoever carries this good news – and that is what the word “Gospel” means – has beautiful feet. Think of all those people in your life whose feet have crossed your doorstep in time of need, who have been little Christs to you. Feet which have walked great distances to share a word of hope and encouragement with you for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have paced up and down hospital hallways to give you comfort and support for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have stood by you at deathbeds and gravesides for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have gone the difficult pathway for you to say what needs to be said for Jesus’ sake. Feet which have traversed streets and sidewalks to bring you the good news of God in Christ. Feet which have ached and become sore in service for Jesus’ sake. As we go forth to “tell it on mountain, over the hills and ev’rywhere, that Jesus Christ is born,” remember, my friends, that these feet of ours – callouses, corns, and bunions included – are beautiful feet.
On this Christmas Day, as we consider the Word made flesh and the beautiful feet of the one who brings good news, our friend Dr. Seuss had it right: “Left foot, right foot; low foot, high foot; wet foot, dry foot; front feet, back feet; slow feet, quick feet. In the house and on the street, how many, many feet you meet.” My Christmas prayer is that all who meet our feet may call them “beautiful feet” as we become bearers of the good news of God in Christ Jesus to the world around us. May God make it so for Jesus’ sake. Amen.