Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sermon for 12/24/14: Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord



Peace on Earth

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

In just a few verses, Luke shifts us from the king of the known world, Caesar Augustus, to the Roman Governor Quirinius, to a nobody named Joseph and his betrothed wife, Mary, who was with child. If you blinked, you’d miss this humble family. Mary and Joseph were a lowly and insignificant couple in the eyes of the world as they make their way to David’s city, Bethlehem. Luke tells us, “While they were there, the days were finished that she should be delivered and she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

While Caesar slept in comfort in his magnificent palace in Rome, the Savior of the whole universe was tightly wrapped up in swaddling clothes and laid where animals were kept. Where we would least expect it, at a time when no one was around, shoved into a dirty, smelly corner because our world was too busy for Him, God Himself comes to save us. Mary’s Son is born—born to carry our sorrows and to be acquainted with our grief. He is born to cure our sicknesses and diseases. He’s born to give us life by the nails that will be driven into His hands and feet. He’s born to die on the Cross and rise again on the third day.

If the story had ended in some corner of Bethlehem, no one would have been saved. Certainly no one would have noticed. So an angel brought the message to all creation. But the angel didn’t come to Caesar, nor to the governor, to announce the birth of God in the flesh. The word was not given even to the Mayor of Bethlehem. Instead, the angel appears to shepherds out in the fields who were watching their flocks. They appeared to these lowly men to proclaim the good news of great joy, which would be to all people.

Today, the angel’s Christmas Gospel has made it into your ears, too. Come out of your gloom. Leave behind your despair. Give up your loneliness. Wipe away your tears. Part ways with your fear and doubt. The heavens once again declare the glory and majesty of the eternal Son of God! God in flesh rests in his manger throne. He did not come merely for mighty Caesar. He did not come merely for the powerful Governor. He has come to you, poor and miserable sinner, to save you from your sins. God and sinners are reconciled. The song is for you: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men!” 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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