Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sermon for 12/24/13--The Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord



The Gift

Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Though we haven’t gotten to this point in the Kornacki house, maybe you've gotten your presents wrapped by now. Maybe you’ve used those little to/from tags so everyone knows the giver and the recipient. Sometimes those tags fall off, and there’s a mad scramble to determine who gets what. The Lord's gifts, however, are never uncertain. When Jesus is born, we know for whom He has come. He is, as the angels announced, for “all people.” His name tells us that. His name in Hebrew is Yahushua, Joshua, and that means “Yahweh, the Lord, will save His people from their sins.” The name “Jesus,” is the Greek form of that. His name tells us two things. First, it tells us who this baby is—namely, God Himself. Second, it tells us He does—that is, He saves us from our sins. It’s a name given not because it's this year's top pop singer or because it sounds cool, but because it means something; it identifies this Baby as the Savior of the world.

When the angel told Joseph that the child’s name would be Jesus, neither Joseph or Mary really understood what was to come. They could not grasp what having this name would mean for this Boy. How could they understand or accept that He would grow up and be hated more and more and finally be crucified like a common criminal? How could they accept that He would die bloody and alone but for a few people looking on? How could they believe that, to everyone's astonishment, His tomb would be empty three days later?

All that Mary and Joseph knew was that Mary was with child by the Holy Spirit and Joseph was to help to take care of him. This child came to have a birth like ours so that we might have a new birth from above. He came to be born of a woman that we might be reborn of the holy Church. He came to be under the care of an adopted father so that we would be adopted as sons of our heavenly Father. Everything Jesus did, even down to the details of His conception and birth, was wrapped up and described in that name He was given. In Hebrew, Joshua. In Greek, Jesus. “Yahweh, the Lord, saves.” That is exactly what He does. This is exactly the gift He gives: He saves you from your sins. In the name of the Father and of the Son (†) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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