Christmas Eve 2016
In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Newborn King +
How do you handle rejection? If this seems an odd way to start a Christmas sermon, remember our first reading. There in the Garden the LORD God comes upon His Adam, His Eve – and there they are, hiding in the bushes, trying to be as far from Him as possible. He is the Creator, their God, their Friend, who was used to coming and chatting them in this Garden that He had made for them. And they rejected Him. Spurned Him. Wanted His power because they thought they could do a better job than Him. So, how do you handle rejection? Anger? Sorrow? Depression? Sweep it under the rug and never speak of it? That's because we're all sinners, stuck in the same rut we've been in since the Garden – but that is not how the LORD God handles rejection. His response to rejection, dear friends, is Christmas.
Adam and Eve have rejected Him, yet He promises right then that He will rescue them from the hole they've dug themselves, that He Himself will come and crush Satan's head to rescue them. And He comes at Christmas, is born a human being. Adam and Eve thought that they could be a better God than God – instead God becomes Man, and for their sake He lives as Adam and Eve should have.
But the Garden wasn't the end of the rejection. There was Abraham. God had promised him a son, born of his wife Sarah. Yet he had rejected God as well, tried his own thing – took the serving girl Hagar and then Ishmael was born. But no, that's not how God will work. Finally, God gives Abraham Isaac, and then there upon the mountain, when Isaac's life was demanded of him, a demand that would be God's right – God's just judgment upon sinful man – the LORD shows Abraham something else. Go – Isaac will live. My ways are not your ways = I'll handle this rejection not by killing your son Isaac as justice demands, but I myself, I the LORD will become man and I will suffer in Isaac's place. Your rejection will not cost you, it will cost Me.
Yet the rejection continued. All those lovely prophecies Isaiah makes – they were made to wicked kings of Israel, who rejected and disobeyed God. And yet, even in the midst of their rebellion and rejection, God still is faithful. Your rejection won't stop my plan of salvation. I will give you a Son, I will come and be the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace in spite of your wickedness – and I will do this for you. The Lion will lay down and graze with the sheep because I Myself will be born and laid in manager... and I will put an end to all this sin and violence.
And so He comes – comes into a world just like what we see today. A world with fearful people, governments squeezing out more and more taxes, shepherds stuck out with the lousy night shift, wicked kings and the like. But the world is changed, my friends. It is changed because God does not meet our rejection of Him, our sin, with a rejection of His own. No, He is determined to be Emmanuel, God with us. And so, He is born – there in that manger lies True God now also True Man – and He does all that Adam and Eve, all that you and I did not. He lives perfectly, righteously – and He gives that righteous to us. God no longer sees our rejection – when He sees us, He sees only Christ. This child is born, and He goes to the cross, and all the punishment, all the wages of sin is swallowed up in His death – and He rises to show and promise to us that life is ours – His life is ours, life eternal.
How does God deal with rejection? He forgives it. He reconciles it. He gives us forgiveness and life and salvation, for God becomes Man to be our Savior from all our sin. Dear friends in Christ, a most blessed and wondrous Christmas to you all! In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Newborn King + Amen.