TEXT: LUKE 2:1-20
UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY – A SAVIOR!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Merry Christmas!  A Savior is born to you!  How do you know this child is a gift from God for you?  The shepherds heard it first.  I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  You don’t have to be old enough or wise enough or wealthy enough or strong enough or good enough to qualify for this gift.  I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.    You qualify!  Merry Christmas to you!


Nothing new will be heard this evening that hasn’t been heard in this congregation for nearly a century.  In text or song or sermon, the meaning of this night is the same this year as in Y2K as in mid-twentieth century as in 1916.  Nothing new and yet it is always new!  This gift of God’s love is for you.  Merry Christmas!


If you’re not in the mood for Christmas, whatever you think that is, that could an advantage.  That might help you hear the truth of this night even better.  For Christmas is not about our ever-changing moods.  Christmas is about God’s never-changing grace.  The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people (Titus 2:11).  You qualify – whatever your mood!  Merry Christmas!


That’s why nothing can wreck Christmas!  Unbelief can ruin us eternally, but nothing can defeat Christmas!  Lack of snow cannot spoil it!  Our culture’s efforts to replace “merry Christmas” with “happy holidays” - cannot tear down the true Christmas!  Feeling low, facing sickness, being lonely, even being depressed cannot ruin Christmas!  It’s because we sinners face all these things and more that Christ came down in Mary’s womb!  The good news of great joy is not because we have everything in hand.  The good news of great joy is exactly because of our ongoing, desperate, need for rescue.  Satan’s seduction is serious.  Death is the real wage for our sin.  But they are no match for the Word made flesh – Unto you is born…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

CHRISTMAS EVE – DEC. 24, 2014
TEXT: LUKE 2:1-20
UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY – A SAVIOR!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Merry Christmas!  A Savior is born to you!  How do you know this child is a gift from God for you?  The shepherds heard it first.  I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  You don’t have to be old enough or wise enough or wealthy enough or strong enough or good enough to qualify for this gift.  I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.    You qualify!  Merry Christmas to you!


Nothing new will be heard this evening that hasn’t been heard in this congregation for nearly a century.  In text or song or sermon, the meaning of this night is the same this year as in Y2K as in mid-twentieth century as in 1916.  Nothing new and yet it is always new!  This gift of God’s love is for you.  Merry Christmas!


If you’re not in the mood for Christmas, whatever you think that is, that could an advantage.  That might help you hear the truth of this night even better.  For Christmas is not about our ever-changing moods.  Christmas is about God’s never-changing grace.  The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation for all people (Titus 2:11).  You qualify – whatever your mood!  Merry Christmas!


That’s why nothing can wreck Christmas!  Unbelief can ruin us eternally, but nothing can defeat Christmas!  Lack of snow cannot spoil it!  Our culture’s efforts to replace “merry Christmas” with “happy holidays” - cannot tear down the true Christmas!  Feeling low, facing sickness, being lonely, even being depressed cannot ruin Christmas!  It’s because we sinners face all these things and more that Christ came down in Mary’s womb!  The good news of great joy is not because we have everything in hand.  The good news of great joy is exactly because of our ongoing, desperate, need for rescue.  Satan’s seduction is serious.  Death is the real wage for our sin.  But they are no match for the Word made flesh – Unto you is born…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 


The word Savior means rescuer.  Its Old Testament roots would indicate total rescue – also from sin.  The Savior is Christ – that is the Messiah – the Promised One – the Anointed One!  This is Christ the Lord – which word “Lord” in the Greek Old Testament (LXX) translates Yahweh.  The rescuer – The Savior whose birth is announced is God – Yahweh.  That’s the degree of our need for rescue. 


The truth is that no matter how we struggle and how we strive, no matter how much control we think we have, we are dust and to dust we will return.  Yet, even death cannot ruin Christmas!  This baby was born to die and so defeat death for us.  That’s the reason He took on flesh!  Death, where is your sting?  Grave where is your victory?  And if death is done in by this Wonder of a counselor, this Mighty God, this Prince of Peace – then He is certainly able to break the rod of Satan’s oppression and take you to Himself as His battle spoil.  


In recent weeks as I visited those who are unable to come to God’s house – this evening’s Gospel from Luke 2 was the text.  I spoke with them about Christmases past – when they were children – when family was present - perhaps when young children or grandchildren were a delight in their home.  How different it can be when age increases and health decreases and activity is limited.  In one sense it can seem like Christmas just passes by and one misses out.  But such a perspective would be a lie of Satan - for Christmas is Jesus Christ!  The real Christmas is where His humble gifts are received in faith! 


That’s why the angel said to them, “Fear not…”  We sinners have every reason to fear what comes to us from the realm of heaven.  Not one sin will ever enter the presence of God’s holiness and look at the sin that festers in our hearts.  Yet the messenger comes from attending God to announce how God is attending to our foremost need.  “Fear not”.  While Caesar is acting to register his subjects for assessing taxes – God is acting to take away the debt and the damning assessment of our sin. 


The God from whom you are estranged by nature, the God against whom you rebel by nature, reaches down to you with these words, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  A messenger from God’s holy presence proclaims the fulfillment of all His promises.  No matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20).


We sing “silent night” each Christmas Eve.  Indeed in the shepherd’s fields – in a world unaware – there was no advertising at work.  But God was not silent as He gave this gift of gifts beyond the laws of nature.  He who created the laws of procreation went beyond those laws so that God could dwell in human flesh.  By the power of the Holy Spirit the Virgin Mary conceived as God sent forth His Son.  As the God/Man is born of woman – born under the law – God is anything but silent!  The veil hiding the realm of God’s creation not yet visible to us is drawn aside.  A multitude of the heavenly host praised God…saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” 


Merry Christmas to you!  Nothing can undo Christmas!  But so many today say – miracles like this can’t happen.  To say such a is the same as saying – “there is no God” – or “I’m on the throne and I’ve determined that God could not or would not act in such a manner.  This is rubbish!  Such thinking and speaking is really self-deification as if eternal reality is determined by our experiences and our limited wisdom. 


Merry Christmas to you!  God has always loved you!  He loves you now!  In His undeserved love He by whom the heavens and earth were made came down.  The miracle of the ages has happened and it happened “to you”, that is “for you”Unto you is born this day… a Savior!”


He is not born a mere spiritual advisor to give you a few pointers on cleaning up your life.  He is not born a spiritual guide to show you how to find your own way.  He is the way!  He is not born a sweet spiritual image to make you feel a certain way!  The spirit of Christmas is not that of an imagined angel Clarence trying to earn his wings in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  The spirit of Christmas is not Ebenezer Scrooge being convinced that He must be more kind and generous as the answer to his eternal problems.  The spirit of Christmas is not simply that of family time, helping people, or feeling good.  These are wonderful gifts.  We give thanks for them and as St. Paul wrote to Titus, Jesus Christ…gave himself for us to redeem us from lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.  God bless us with His zeal for loving our neighbor – for we never love as we should.  But the true spirit of Christmas is the Holy Spirit testifying to who this child is and what He does for you.  The true spirit of Christmas is receiving in faith the redemption and the purifying work of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Unto you is born this day…a Savior who is Christ the Lord.  Merry Christmas to you!


Dear Christians, the beating heart of Christmas is first of all not what you feel and do, but what God did and continues to do.  Christmas is about your being given to - like a child is given to at Christmas.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15).  This is not being childish but childlike – receiving in faith what we cannot give ourselves.  In the Christ child your Heavenly Father brings to you and me the gift of gifts that far surpasses any earthly possession.  In this child God gives you His love in the flesh.  Merry Christmas to you!


He came naked from Mary’s womb in the darkness that He might hang naked in the darkness of God’s noonday wrath.  He had no room in a place for guests that He might prepare room for you in the new heavens and the new earth.  He breathed your poisoned air that He might cry out and hand over the Spirit for you (John 19:30).  He was clothed in swaddling clothes that He might later be wrapped in grave clothes, the completed sacrifice for the sin of the world.  The government – the kingdom upon His shoulders - is placed there by the cross that He shouldered for us.  He slept in an animal’s feeding trough that he might feed you with the Bread of Life.  He was nestled in His mother’s arms that, risen from the grave, He might enfold you in His arms for eternity.


Yahweh did it on purpose!  He is glad He did it.  Jesus helps those who cannot help themselves.  There is salvation in no one else (Acts 4:12) but there is salvation in Him.  He made peace with God for you by the blood of His cross.  He made peace with God for you that causes angel armies to sing!  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will among men.


Unto you is born…a Savior.  God and man are together again for He is both God and Man.  There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  He has always loved you!  He has come to save you from the sins that you have done in thought and word and deed and from the good that you have left undone in thought and word and deed.  Your record is purified!  He also releases you from the evils done to you!  In this troubled world we sinners are both predator and prey.  Our tongues may injure another, but we also may be injured by the tongues of others.  Our body and actions may hurt others, but the actions and bodies of others may also hurt us.  Our Savior, who is Christ the Lord, rescues us from our transgressions against others.  He also rescues us from self-pity and bitterness and revenge and hatred when we are sinned against.  We don’t have to play the miserable victim and seek revenge.  Why, because,unto you is born…a Savior who is Christ the Lord.


And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.  What kind of sign is that for the Savior of the world?  What kind of sign is that for the coming of Satan’s worst nightmare, a wonder of a Counselor, Mighty God…Prince of peace.  It is God’s chosen sign, humble and sure and testifying to the humble way this child would shoulder the governing of His kingdom. 


He isn’t in the manger anymore.  Nor is He on the cross where He won your salvation.  He is risen and ascended and interceding for His Church – for you.  He is with His people more than ever through new signs that are also quite humble.  You will find the Savior hidden in the waters of Baptism. You will find Him wrapped in the swaddling clothes of Scripture and under bread and wine.  He is present at His altar – to serve you with the same body and the same blood knit together in Mary’s womb.  Tomorrow and each week in the Divine Liturgy He comes to teach you and feed you and give you life.  You worship Him chiefly by receiving in faith what He gives.


Nothing affects how you live and what you give to others more than this true spirit of Christmas.  Such things do not make Christmas but God wills for them to flow from Christmas!   The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.


Good works flow from the gift of the Savior.    That’s why God doesn’t stop giving to you in Christ Jesus!  You cannot rise to Him.  He continues to come to you to cheer your wearied spirit and draw you unto Him.  The faith He gives is for you!  The peace He gives is for you!  The living hope He gives is for you! 


Beloved of God, your loved ones who have died in Christ are not missing out on the true Christmas!  Nothing, not even death can ruin Christmas!  Through God’s redeeming love the people of His possession are enjoying the blessed hope for which you wait.  While you wait, Merry Christmas to you!  In the Name of Jesus, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be honor and glory now and forever.  Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a