Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
We have been blessed to hear the song of the angels once again: “Glory be to God on high, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.” This is, indeed, “good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” The angels sang that message to the shepherds—and to us—because “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Life was born in flesh! Today is the birthday of Life Himself! This birth of Life in flesh takes away what seemed to be the victory of death and the grave, giving us instead the sure and certain hope and promise of eternal life! Even in the midst of the darkness of disease and despair that we’ve seen in abundance this year, we have reason to be joyful, for our Lord, who has won the victory over sin and death, has come to set us free. The devil, the world, and even our own flesh cannot overcome this Life. Rejoice, you saints, for the crown of life draws ever nearer to you! Rejoice, you sinners, for the Savior, the Word made flesh, is present to speak the sweetest word of forgiveness to you! And even the pagans could have reason to rejoice this day, for the Lord has come to call them to new life in Him. He has come to bring peace between God and man—“peace which the world cannot give.”
The promise was from of old: a Seed of the woman to crush the head of the serpent; a Son who would undo the curse of the fall into sin; a Savior who would bring life out of the dust once again. The promise was spoken to Adam and Eve; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to David; to the exiles in captivity; indeed, to all the Old Testament faithful who put their trust in the Word of God. And in the fullness of time, just as He had done throughout the Old Testament wanderings of His children, God proved faithful to His Word and promises once again. The Son of God, “by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man…” He took upon Himself human flesh. He took upon Himself the nature of man, so that He might reconcile our human nature to the One who created it. Humanity, having once fallen into sin, is raised up in the flesh of Immanuel. God truly is with us in the person of Jesus Christ. In His great love, He endured the cross and its scorn and shame, bearing our sins, dying our death, and then rising from the dead. In His great love, He has given us new life in Holy Baptism, raising us from the death of sin, so that we would be a new creation.
This new life puts to death the Old Adam and his deeds. This new creation as children of the Father calls us to renounce the works of the sinful flesh. Do not let yourself be comfortable in the chains which held you in bondage to sin. Do not let the weakness of the flesh claim the victory over your willing spirit. You are a member of the body of Christ; He has delivered you from the power of darkness and into His marvelous light. He has lifted you out of the grave. By the grace of God, you have become the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit will work good works within you which are worthy of your calling as children of God.
We’re still in the year 2020, and we still have dark days ahead of us on this side of eternity. There’s no guarantee that the next year will be any better than this one has been. The virus is continuing to wreak havoc on the world. Depression and anxiety are dreadful afflictions. Satan and his minions will continue to tempt and assault you. The world will continue to practice and preach against everything you by faith believe and hold dear. Your own flesh will continue to tempt you and attempt to lead you astray. But do not be afraid. Fear not! “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Christ the Savior is born! “The Light shines in the darkness.” Come. Approach the altar, and behold His glory. Receive the Word made flesh in your mouth. The darkness cannot overcome Him; and by the grace given you in the waters of Holy Baptism, the darkness cannot overcome you. 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.