Christmas Eve — Luke 2:1-20
In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
Beloved in the Lord,
Our God has good news for us tonight. The Lord has a good word for each and every one of you, a word so good, so great and grand and glorious that this Word of His is given you to change your world, your life and your heart! St. Luke reports, “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” That means counted and we know that when people are being counted they’re being counted in order to be taxed. Some things just never change do they? Rulers still count. And governments still tax. Now, obviously that’s not the good news God has for you tonight. As much as we would like to hear about our taxes going down, that’s just not God’s Word for us tonight. God has an even better Word for you.
Because the hearts of rulers like to count and tax, God makes use of such hearts. He is after all a God who works all things for the good of those who love Him. Thus He makes use of Caesar and Barak all for the good of His beloved – that means you and me. Making use of Caesar the Lord gives cause for a young couple to travel south. Mary is with child. Joseph is her betrothed husband. Caesar could care less about this couple. He’s only interested in their coinage. But the Lord is very interested. He is interested in every family, every man, every woman and ever child. And because is so interested in us He is very interested in Mary and Joseph getting to Bethlehem. God is going work His wondrous Word in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is a long way from here and who would think that some place so far away would have such a great impact on our own lives. What happened in Bethlehem happened so long ago. Who would think that deeds long done would keep working their works for us and on us today? It’s almost unbelievable. Yet our God is so powerful that He can even make use of past events to change hearts, and lives, and worlds, today, even yours and even mine.
And what is it that happened? What has God done? What News comes from Bethlehem? A baby is born. “That’s it?!” Yep. That’s it. A baby is born, a tiny child, a first born son, and a pretty poor one at that. “But babies are born all of the time, every day, boys and girls, big ones, little ones, cute ones, and well, . . . other cute ones.” Yep. Babies are born all of the time. And Babies die. And children die. And teenagers die. And adults die. And Old people die. The wages of sin is death. Death is because of sin and taxes us greater than Caesar. Everyone dies because everyone has sin. If God is going to break death He must break sin not just for the adults, or the rich people, or the healthy people, but also for the poor and the small, and the vulnerable, even the most vulnerable among us. Because the Lord loves you, because He loves each and every person, young and old, big and little, Adults and children, Children and babies, He sends His son to be born a baby from a virgin’s womb.
That insignificant baby born so long ago, so far away, is God’s Son. And He is come to save us, to save you.
Now beloved, that is some great news . . . if only you would believe it. We have become accustomed to hearing the news, good or bad – and most of the news these days is bad – for some reason bad news sells – but we have become so accustomed to hearing the news or watching the news that when the segment is over we move on to something else. “And a word from our sponsors,” or “And Angie has the weather for the weekend.” Or “Sports is coming right up after the break.” We hear the news, we watch the news, we are informed by the news and the news is trivialized by everything that comes after it. We therefore have a short attention span and sleepy hearts. And thus we hear the good news of the gospel and then we quickly forget, or move on to something else, something a bit more entertaining, upbeat, and relevant, something that has to do with us.
It seems we’re a lot like Caesar. We’re a bit more concerned about today’s events than we are about yesterdays or things that happened way back when in “those days.” We’re more worried about our taxes, or fiscal cliffs, or guys with guns, or what Susie is wearing to the dance, or who Johnny is dating these days, or what we’re going to have for Christmas dinner, or whether little brother will get hulk gloves and big brother will get his nerf gun. We worry about trivial things because that’s what we’ve been told is important. And then when something that is not so trivial, when something horrible happens, when the reality of this sinful, evil, world hits home, then we don’t know how to deal with it. We don’t know where to go, who will help, what words to say or what words to listen to. We don’t know how to pray because we don’t know what to believe. We’re afraid of our neighbors. We’re anxious about today and tomorrow. We want things to change but what kind of changes would make a difference. We turn to government but government is only interested in counting and taxing. We try to ignore it or run away from it but life keeps happening. You see, beloved, we’ve been gallivanting about in Caesar’s world and Caesar’s world is full of sin and death and wickedness – things we simply can’t avoid no matter how hard we try.
And that’s why this day is an important day. It’s a good day. God has a good Word for you and me as we live in an evil world. And that good Word became flesh, was conceived by the Holy Ghost and was born of a virgin, born so long ago so far away, yet born for you today. This word is so good and so great that heaven cannot contain itself. Angels proclaim it. The Heavenly Hosts sing of it. “Fear not! For Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy! Unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord.” This baby is the good news. The good news is that this baby is born unto you and to me even all people. This baby is God’s Son. And God’s Son is come to save us, you and me from this world, from sin, from death and from hell. He’s come to live the life of purity and righteousness that we cannot live. He’s come to suffer in your place and die your death and rise on the 3rd day.
This is how our God deals with the reality of our sins and our sinful world. He sends His Son. He gives a child. A baby is born! God is amazing! The babe is in a manger, not worthy of a cradle or a diaper, and yet He is called the Savior and the Lord. The angels sing about Him and the shepherds hasten to His tiny feet, bowing in homage to their Lord and creator, who though small and vulnerable holds the universe in His hands. The child has no place to lay his head but deigns to rest where ox and ass are lowing. He is small that the least among us receive Him. He is poor that the all may be made rich. He is among the brutes of the earth that we who are brutish in body, mind, heart and soul, may be enlightened by His gospel. He is in the manger that we may receive from Him heavenly food, food giving eternal life. He is there for you. He is come for you. All of this happens for you and is yours to receive if you would only believe.
It’s time for you to wake up from your little dream land and start dealing with the reality of this world and the reality of God’s gospel. Sin is out there and sin is in here (the heart). Because of sin there is suffering, and there is sadness and there is separation and divorce, and adultery and murder and abortion and mass shootings and mental illness and disasters and catastrophes. This is our world, your world, and it is going to hell. And unless you wake up and believe the good news of this Child Jesus you will be going there too.
Thus with the proclamation of the Word is the call to repent. Wake up! Turn away. Turn around. Allow God’s Spirit to change your heart, your life, and your world. Sow unto the Spirit and reap eternal life. Receive God’s forgiveness! Be Baptized. Believe the absolution. Come and eat and drink from His table.
The temptation is to hear these Words tonight and then return to our usual way of life. We’ve still got sin the world. We’ve still got death. We’ve still got tragedy. These things didn’t go away with the first Christmas! And so the temptation is to remain afraid and to tremble at the world around us. And too many of our neighbors, our friends and relatives, and too many of us will look for an answer here or there but to never really allow the ONE answer given in our text to change us, our hearts, our lives and so also our world.
That’s why after this service many of you won’t come back tomorrow, or Sunday. We would much rather get lost in the world of hobbits and goblins than find refuge in Christ’s Church. Many of you won’t come back for more of God’s Word . . . until reality strikes again, until there’s a travesty, an illness, a death, a funeral, . . . or until next Christmas Eve.
Beloved, If you’re not coming back to hear Jesus’ Word you’re just wandering around Caesar’s world looking for something to keep you comfortable while you sleep your life away.
Do not let this good Word fall on deaf ears. Arise! Wake up like these shepherds. Hear the Word of the Angels. Believe the Word and worship the Son. Worshipping receive from this Jesus mercy and forgiveness, life and salvation. For the Child born so long ago so far away is able to save you today. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of His favor. Today He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Today He calls you away from sin out of death and into the Kingdom of His grace. All you have is “today”. And God would give you eternity through His Son Jesus, if you but repent and Believe.
Yes, sin is still among us, even in us. But Jesus is come to forgive sin; work which He does and gives each and every Lord’s Day. Yes, death still happens, to big ones and little ones, to young ones and older ones. But Jesus is come to give His life as a ransom and make certain the resurrection of the dead on the last day. Yes there is much suffering and evil in the world. But Jesus has conquered evil with His innocent suffering and death. Yes there is much bloodshed, but Jesus is come to cover over sin, death, and devil with His holy precious blood. There is much that is not right with our world, our lives and our hearts. But Jesus is come, this Baby is born, to work His righteousness in the world and our lives and our hearts as He gives us the Good Word of His gospel today.
Beloved in the Lord, today God calls you to worship at the feet of His Son bowing head and heart before Him. Today is the Lord’s Day. Every day is the Lord’s Day. For every day in Jesus is a day of mercy and therefore a good day. God grant you a good day today, tomorrow and forever more. Merry Christmas. Amen!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Pastor Tony Sikora
Hope Lutheran Church
De Witt, MI