- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 26, 2004

The following are excerpts of a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. Zebene Lemma at Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church in Temple Hill.

Emmanuel (God is with us). The mystery behind God becoming a human being is to salvage us from eternal death and giving us everlasting life, to bring us to light from darkness, to change our sin to righteousness.

God’s wisdom in saving us is greater than His creation of the universe. Everything God has done for us has reasons and every one of it has its own examples.

For instance, in Genesis 3:6 it was indicated that the evil got to Adam and Eve through food.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.”

God cast out the evil by fasting, as it is written in Matthew 4:1-11. “Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ But He answered, ‘It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, ‘If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ ”

Mark 9:29 says, “And he said unto them, This kind [of devil] can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.”

When Adam and Eve broke God’s command, they became naked. Look at Genesis 3:10. “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

In order to save us from their sin, God was born naked. Look at Luke 2:7. “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Adam and Eve were fled from heaven (Genesis 3); Jesus Christ was fled to Egypt (Matthew 2:13).

Death came through women (Eve), but everlasting life came through the women (the Virgin Mary), because Jesus Christ was born from her.

Adam and Eve died from eating the fruit of the tree, hence God crucified on a cross made of wood.

Therefore, when we Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord, we rejoice in the fact that this is the day we were given eternal life. The birth of Christ ended the kingdom of the devil.

When we say the word became flesh, we mean that God became human to save us.

In the Gospel of Matthew 1:22-23, his mother named him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son. And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.’ ”

From this, we understand through the birth of Christ, God came from heaven to be with us.

There is always peace in the presence of God. Since He is with us, we have peace.

He is redeemer and He heals those who are sick. May He rein peace on all of us. When we celebrate His birth, let us remember what God has done for us. Let us think beyond the Christmas gift.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” from John 3:16. May God be with us all.

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