Saturday, January 2, 2021

Christmas 2


Forward into a New Year

O God, our Maker and Redeemer, who wonderfully created us and in the incarnation of Your Son yet more wondrously restored our human nature, grant that we may ever be alive in Him who made Himself to be like us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

On the 2nd Sunday after Christmas we have an opportunity to think through the meaning of Christmas. And to examine our lives as we enter a new year.  The rush and the roar of Christmas festivities are over.

Now we can quietly contemplate what took place at Bethlehem. What in fact did take place close to 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem? It is the fact that the Word became flesh for the ultimate purpose of reconciling us back to the Father.

Last Sunday we ended with verse 40 of Luke’s presentation of the early life of Jesus. “And the child grew and became strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.”

Fast-forward twelve years. Jesus makes a return trip. To Jerusalem. To the temple. To listen to the scribes and the Elders. And to ask questions. This is His habit. This is His method of operation. That is His MO His Modus operandi. His profile.  There is nothing strange or odd in Jesus’ behavior.  We should not be surprised.

Today is the first Sunday of a New Year. Many if not most are glad to see 2020 in their rear view mirror.  Forget New Year’s resolutions. At least, for this year. If anything many are hoping to hit “restart” to their routines, their schedules and their very lives.   Yet, today’s reading makes a perfect resolution for us as a Friedheim family. As we consider our future.  Make this resolve;

1.That we might receive the Lord’s gifts with thanksgiving. In the Gospel (Luke 2:40-52) Luke tells us, “They found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teacher both listening to them and asking them questions.” – Luke 2:46

The trip to the temple in Jerusalem was for Jesus an annual event.  Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up according to custom.”

Nothing would distract Him. His focus was complete. Mary and Joseph were frantic. Jesus was so focused that He lost all track of time.  "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?" But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

That we might grow.

 And the child grew and became strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.” – Luke 2:40 Jesus’ life was one of growth through submission, the ultimate example of losing your life only to find it.

 And Jesus increased in wisdom and statute and in favor of God and men.” – Luke 2:52 We just aren’t good at seeing those growth opportunities, but the Father loves us still. Christ loved you enough to submit to the cross. Jesus submitted where you could not. He is the one directing growth from the right hand of the Father. As you place your focus and your confidence in Him realize that just as in the past He continues to order all things.

Transition: Because of Christmas we are children of God by faith. But what kind of children?  We are adopted into God’s family.

II. The events of Christmas mean we are children of God by means of adoption. In our Epistle lesson (Ephesians 1:13-14) Paul reminds us that in Christ God blessed us with spiritual blessings making us sons and daughters through grace. That we might “have redemption through his blood.” (Ephesians 1:7) Jesus lived by faith in the Word of His heavenly Father.

 Christ Jesus is still found in His Church, in “the word of truth, the gospel,” by which we are adopted by His Father and sealed with His Spirit. (Ephesians 1:5, 13)

Paul tells us we are “destined” (v.5) God has a destiny for you. He predestined you. Not to condemnation. But to life through Christ. It is the Father’s will for all of us to be saved. To have life. And go to heaven. This has been the LORD’s will even before the world was created. To accomplish this, He sent His Son to the world to die for us that we might become a people of God by faith. This is your destiny in Christ.

Transition: Christmas means we are children of God by faith. Christmas means we are children of God by adoption. Christmas means we are children of God by grace.

III. We are children of God by grace – In the Old Testament lesson (1 kings 3:4-15) we are told that early in his administration Solomon prayed for a discerning heart. “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” (v.9)  Solomon received what he asked for – and even more.

What do people dream of? A larger house? A bigger raise? A strong portfolio. A secure future?  The careful reader will remember that the seeds of Solomon’s destruction have already been sown in God's gift of what Solomon did not ask for. His wealth and honor which attracted the foreign marriages that ultimately led him astray.

Solomon was wise in what he prayed for, a discerning heart. His downfall came when he became distracted and enamored by the things of this world. He was charmed and captivated by the trappings of his office and position. He kept his gaze on the periphery instead of the center where the Lord has promise to be. Seek the Lord and find Him in those places He has promised to be. In the promises of the gospel. In His promises of forgiveness, pardon and peace; in his gifts of redemption in word, water, wafer and wine.  

In this New Year keep Christ at the center of your attention. It’s easy to become diverted and soon sidetracked when we become preoccupied by the cares of this life.  Becoming distracted as a demented squirrel!  Heed the words of the Savior, “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take courage; I have overcome the world!” - John 16:33

Keep your focus on Christ and not the vain things which can easily be misplaced, and soon gone. Possibly, one of the lessons learned from this past year is for us to set priorities on what is that one thing needful.        

Are you dreaming of a house with many rooms? Listen to the promise of your Savior.” Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe in Me as well. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and welcome you into My presence, so that you also may be where I am.  – John 14:1-3

In this coming year may we be directed by the Grace. That we might receive the Lord’s gifts with thanksgiving knowing we have been adopted into His family; that we are the children of God by grace.  

Passive Sentences- 9%
Readability – 78%
Reading Level – 5.1

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