Monday, January 02, 2017

Sermon for 1/1/17: The Sunday After Christmas

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Promised and Fulfilled

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

Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple to be circumcised and named. While there, they encountered Simeon and Anna. Jesus was brought to the temple in fulfillment of the Law of Moses. God prescribed in His Law that the firstborn is to be consecrated to Him, so His people would remember that He has saved them. He delivered them in a mighty way from their bondage to the Egyptians. And what’s more, He will deliver all His people of all time from the bondage of sin and into His promised heaven.
Jesus certainly didn't need to be purified; He's without sin. But Joseph and Mary obeyed the Law of God nonetheless, bringing Jesus into the temple. As He did with everything else, Jesus perfectly obeyed the Law of God, something we have not done and cannot do. In this way Jesus came to be our Savior, and even as an infant, He was doing the work of saving us. Because of His righteousness before the Father, we are made holy and acceptable in His sight.
While they were at the temple, the Holy Family encountered Simeon. A prophecy had been given to Simeon. “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.” And when Simeon held Jesus in his arms, he sang a song of thankfulness to God for revealing the salvation of the world to him in the person of the Christ child. The words he spoke were preserved by the Holy Spirit for the sake of the Church. Simeon spoke for us, and we will join our voices to his this very day when, like Simeon, we hold the Savior of the world—Simeon in his arms, and us in our mouths as we receive the very body and blood of Christ. After all, this promise given to Simeon is also God's promise to us. We too may depart in peace according the Word of the Lord, for in receiving the bread and wine combined with Christ's very Word, our eyes have seen His salvation. He breaks the bonds which sin and guilt hold on us. He strikes down our enemy, Satan, in the body and blood that was given and shed at Calvary—a gift He offers you today.
What does this mean for us? It means that, as we begin this new year, we can see what lies ahead of us—not only for this new year, but what God has prepared for us eternally. We see the love God has shown us in sending His Son for our salvation. Sinners that we are, we need that continual reminder that God loves us in Christ, because the old Adam within us is God’s enemy. We need to return here constantly: this year and in the years to come. We need to return to our Baptism, where that Old Adam is drowned and dies, and where the new man, the child of God and heir of heaven, emerges to new life. We need to continue to receive God's love as He delivers it to us in the Supper Christ prepares for us.
At the last hour of our life we will say with Simeon, “Let your servant depart in peace.” God always fulfills His Word. We don't know when our last hour will be. It may come in this new year; it may be far off. But whatever His holy will is, we will depart in peace. The Sacraments, the gifts of God, have touched our lips. His Word has filled our ears. And because of those gifts, praises to God spring forth from our lips.
We don't know who we will run across in the new year—many old faces are likely, and we will also probably encounter some new ones. All people need to hear. All people need to know what caused Simeon to rejoice, what caused Mary and Joseph to marvel, what Anna delighted to share with others. God grant us all the joy in receiving the consolation of sins forgiven as we receive the Christ, and joy as we tell everyone what He has done. In the name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.

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