Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Day Sermon

In the Name of Christ the New Born King +

          In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  This is what John writes to us this morning, but we have heard it before.  It is the story of Genesis.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  God speaks – the Word of God Himself goes forth, and everything is called into existence.  The Word goes forth, and there is light, there is land and sea, there are plants and animals, and then at the last, there is man.  In the beginning God made Adam and placed him in the garden.  In the beginning, it was good.
          So why Pastor, are we going back to the beginning?  It’s Christmas day!  Get to the point.  This is the point.  When we talk about Christmas, when we speak of the birth of Jesus, we aren’t just talking about the miracle of child-birth, or an excuse to give gifts or have a big dinner.  John gets to the point.  “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and yet the world did not know Him.  These words describe Christmas, they describe what Christmas is, and sadly, they describe how the world views this most blessed and holy day.  Christmas is God Himself coming into the world, and yet the world misses it.  The world sees Christmas for presents and Santa and dinners.  We see those things as well, but we see Christmas for what it is, what it truly is.  We see and know that Christmas is God taking on human flesh and dwelling among us.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory.  This is the wonder of Christmas.
          Let us go back to the beginning.  It was good.  Everything was perfect and fine and wonderful.  And then man fell.  Adam sinned.  Adam was lost.  He listened not to the Word of God, but rather followed Satan’s temptation.  Adam turned His back upon the Word, the very Word of God which created him and gave him life.  And so Adam was doomed to sweat and toil, cast out from paradise.  Rejecting the Word of life, Adam was doomed to die.  And his children with him, they too were doomed to the same fate.  And Adam saw this – saw his son Cain slaughter Abel.  Saw his body begin to ache, begin to whither, saw the same in Eve his wife.  Adam saw and understood, better than any of us, the strength with which we were trapped in sin – for he had seen paradise, had known it.  As for us, Adam’s children, we have known nothing but sin in this life.  We look to the Scriptures, and all through the Old Testament we see sin having it’s deadly coils rapped around man – even the most righteous of us, even the most “holy.”  Abraham, who talked with God, pimps out his wife, twice.  Moses, who talked with God upon the mountain, strikes the rock in anger and sins.  King David, righteous king David, sins again and again – is a murderer and an adulterer.  We see over and over in Scripture that we sinful, that we fallen man have not the power to stand before sin, have not the power to face it down.  We are trapped, and the false dream that Satan held before us has become a snare to us, a snare around our neck.
          Do you see this – do you see the darkness?  Do you see the darkness which we were stuck in?  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome Him.  This is the joy of Christmas, this is why we have all these candles lit, these lights upon the tree, why our songs are bright and bouncy.  The light shines forth!  Hear the Words of Luther, for he writes it better than I could:
But God had seen my wretched state, before the world’s foundation, and mindful of His mercies great, He planned for my salvation.  He turned to me a father’s heart; He did not choose the easy part but gave His dearest treasure.  God said to His beloved Son; “It’s time to have compassion.  Then go bright jewel of my crown, and bring to all salvation.  From sin and sorrow set them free, slay bitter death for them that they May live with me forever.”  The Son obeyed His Father’s Will, Was born of Virgin mother; and God’s good pleasure to fulfill, He came to be my brother.  His royal power disguised He bore, a servant’s form like mine He wore, to lead the Devil Captive.

This is what Christmas is.  We were languishing in sin, we were stuck and mired in sin – and suddenly Christmas shines forth, and there He lies in a manger. . . Jesus Christ, true God, God Himself is born.  And everything is different.  What we could not do, what sinful fallen man could not do – this child can and will, for this child is no simple boy but is God Himself.  Christmas is the opening salvo of God’s offensive against Satan.  Christmas is the start of our rescue.
          The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  God sees us in trouble, and so what does God do?  He comes to us, He comes among us, He becomes One of us, so that He can be our champion, so that He can win us freedom, so that He can live the life that we ought to have.  When we look at Christ in the Gospels, we see what we ought to be, what Adam was created to be.  We see Man without sin.  He is righteous and holy for us, He is our righteousness and holiness.  And then, what does this holy and righteous Man do – He who knew no sin became sin for us.  The Christ Child grows and goes to the cross, picks up our sin and takes it to the cross and crucifies it in His own Body.  This is why He became Man, this is why He was born on Christmas day.  The infant Christ was laid upon the wood of a Manger so that one day He could be nailed to the wood of the Cross.  He took up life so that in our place He could taste death, our death – and then conquer over it on the third day rising to life again.  This is what Christmas is – it is God shouting out with the voice of His Angels I will not abandon my people.  Adam has died, but he will not linger in his tomb forever.  His children live and die – but My Son, My Word, He will live and die and then live again, restoring Adam and the sons and daughters of Adam to life.  The Babe lying in the Virgin’s arms is the sign, is the warning to Satan that he will be defeated along with sin and death.  That is what Christmas is.  That is what we celebrate.  That God becomes Man in order to win for us our salvation.  That God Himself takes on human flesh, takes on a body, and with that Body, by its death and resurrection, He wins us salvation.
          This is what we celebrate this Christmas.  This is in fact what we celebrate every time we have Holy Communion.  What do we say of the Supper?  “It is the True Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.”  And why?  “These words, ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,’ show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these word.’”  Do you see what we confess every time we commune?  We proclaim Christmas – we say that “yes, God has indeed become a Man, He has become one of us, the Word has become flesh and dwelt among us.”  Our confession of what the Lord’s Supper is also is an affirmation of the reality of Christmas.  That God becomes Man – that right now, this very instant Jesus Christ is both True God and True Man – that Satan tried to wrest His Body away from Him, to snatch it in death, but that Jesus conquered over the devil.  Jesus has life – He is life – and He gives Himself to us.  Literally, He shares His own life with us.  But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  Christ Jesus comes to us through the Word, through Baptism, and indeed we confess that He comes to us in His Body and Blood under bread and wine, and we are made not just children of Adam but Children of God, heirs to eternal life.  No longer do we look just like the dying Adam, but Christ dwells among us – and now we look like Him.  It is truly Immanuel – God with us – God with us for our salvation.
          And so dear friends, we rejoice this day, we see it for what it is.  It is the sign of our salvation – it is God marching forth to war against Satan to win us back to Him.  And so we are right to give praise to God, to extol His glory. . . Glory to God in the Highest – and why?  Because He brings peace to His people on earth.  This is what the Angels sing.  This is why there is joy this day.  This is why we come to His House to hear His Word and to receive His Body and Blood.  This is why Christ Jesus came from heaven above – that by His life He might give us life.  When we see the Christ child we see our salvation.  My dear friends in Christ – and not just friends, but my brothers and sisters, my fellow redeemed, a true and hearty merry Christmas to you this day.  Now let us today together celebrate the feast of the Nativity in the Sacrament which He has given to us.  Amen.

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