Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Day

December 25, 2019

Christ is Born
Luke 2:1-20

In this life - Money is temporary
  A car -temporary
  A career - temporary
     Christ is eternal!
  Today we welcome His Coming - 

The events of  the first Christmas. Are they  only a story, a myth, a legend – something akin to the tale of Rudolph the red nosed reindeer? But consider how real Christmas really is – its concrete, it’s specific, it’s the real deal. Consider the realities of the Christmas event.

1.      Political factors: Caesar Augustus, Quirinius – Vv. 1, 2 -In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.

The relation of church and state is a problem every generation faces. At the very beginning of Jesus’ life the state had its say. A “decree” from Rome gave Jesus’ parents a difficult time: a long, and difficult trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem at a time when the expectant mother needed to stay at home with family. The decree resulted in a stable for a delivery room and animals for attending nurses.

“Caesar” continued to be a problem for Jesus to the very end of his life. Jesus had said — “Render unto Caesar”; and so He was sentenced to death by one of Caesar’s men. Yet, on the other hand, the “decree” reminds us that Jesus came into a real world at a definite time and place. The incarnation is not a theory or myth or the product of human imagination. Christmas is rooted and grounded in time and space and in the events and context of history.

2.      Parents; Joseph, Mary – Vv. 4-5 -And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

At Christmas  God’s grace, that is, the undeserved love of God became a reality by the appearing of Jesus. He was just as real and human as you and I. He was born and placed into a real family. He lived with and among people. He learned a trade by His step-father Joseph, and was nurtured by His mother.   The grace of God became flesh that we might see, hear, and feel God as a reality. Christianity is not a philosophy, not a program of activity, not a code of ethics, but a person. He walked and talked, laughed and cried, lived and died. In Jesus we see the love of God and He came to live with and among people. At His birth we witness His immediate family.

3.      Delivery room: stable manger, child – Vv. 6-7 -And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

How does Jesus choose to make Himself known? Not in pomp and circumstance, not with grand fanfare and a flourish of light and sound. Instead, He chooses to be placed in a manger; the feeding trough of the animals. He is born in a stable, where beasts are kept. Not the place you would go looking to find the redeemer and savior of the world. Or, would you?

This is the amazing thing about our Savior - He chooses to be found in those places the world would least expect. He chooses to reveal Himself in those places the world considers unimportant. He chooses to exert His power in what an unbelieving world considers weak and of little consequence.

Seeing is believing. The shepherds found the Christ-child just as they had been promised. They sought out the infant and His parents where they were told to find Him.
Where do we find the Savior today? We find Him in those places only the Father has promised. We find Him in His message of the Gospel. We find Him in the reading of the Inspired Word. We find Him the waters of Holy Baptism. We find Him in His Meal, in His Word of Absolution, and hidden away in our own hearts.

If you are seeking Christ this Christmas you will find Him only in those places the Father has promised He would be found.  The Shepherds found Him – “just as it had been told them”. Why should you expect anything different?

4.      Witnesses – real people shepherds, you who have seen it again by those witnesses – Vv. 8-12 -  And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Sometimes we can feel quite alone despite of our many activities. Yet, the message of the Savior’s birth comes to us with the same joy and expectation. “For you is born this day a Savior.” This is the greatest revelation known to man. This news calms our fears, removes our doubts and gives us hope. The Good News of the Savior’s birth which is promised for all people was given first to a lonely people. This message is given to you this day as the Father’s gift.

The shepherds were the first to hear of the birth of a Savior. Was it not strange that God sent the angel to tell the shepherds? Why not announce it to the important and powerful people of the world?Why not to kings and generals?Why not to Pharisees and Sadducees? 

The shepherds of Jesus’ day had a bad reputation as thieves. They were among the very poor and usually classified with publicans and prostitutes. The poor seem to be God’s greatest concern. Jesus was born of poor peasants.Later Jesus taught “Blessed are the poor....” As proof of His messiahship, He reported to John the Baptist, “the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Jesus’ birth is good news to the hungry, needy, deprived, and poor.

There was much excitement during the birth. You can see a nervous, frantic new father trying to be midwife to a woman having her first baby. Then came a group of shepherds asking questions and staring at the new baby in adoration. Later came the Wise Men. There was much talking, coming and going, chores to be done, and general confusion. While all this was going on, Mary His mother, pondered all these events and sayings.

What is the meaning of all this? Who is this new baby? What will he amount to? Christmas should be a time for reflection and meditation. For some Christmas is over in a day and then life goes on as before. If so, Christmas is only a mad rush and a state of confusion. For those who “ponder these things,” the cruel cross of Calvary always looms ahead of us - even on Christmas morning.

Does the death of a condemned man seem compelling enough to offer atonement? Could His life and sacrifice really save you?  The surroundings and the circumstances of His birth predict His death. They are the means by which we find peace with God and absolution for our sin.   

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