Vicar Zachary Marklevitz


Merry Christmas brothers and sisters in Christ! Man-made religions have many architectural structures in order to impress others. For example, Islam has Mosques and the city of Mecca, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the Kansas City Missouri Temple, and Buddhism has the “Great Awakening” Temple in India. These are just a few examples from a very extensive list. In the Old Testament reading, we find a tabernacle more beautiful than any structure built by man. This tabernacle was built, not to impress people. But it was built by the command of the true Triune God Himself.


“Moses, in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, built the tabernacle. He laid its bases and set up its frames .He put up its poles and raised up its pillars. He spread and covered the tent over the tabernacle, as the Lord commanded him.” The ark of the testimony was put into the tabernacle. To the naked eye, all of this would have been beautiful. But what sets this apart is that the glory of the Lord filled it! The fullness of God was manifested fully in the tabernacle. Most other religious structures are built in the name of a god or gods, but Moses built a tabernacle with the presence of the only true God. He built a tabernacle which God’s presence made holy.

Christmas Day Sermon, December 25, 2014
Vicar Zachary Marklevitz


Merry Christmas brothers and sisters in Christ! Man-made religions have many architectural structures in order to impress others. For example, Islam has Mosques and the city of Mecca, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the Kansas City Missouri Temple, and Buddhism has the “Great Awakening” Temple in India. These are just a few examples from a very extensive list. In the Old Testament reading, we find a tabernacle more beautiful than any structure built by man. This tabernacle was built, not to impress people. But it was built by the command of the true Triune God Himself.


“Moses, in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, built the tabernacle. He laid its bases and set up its frames .He put up its poles and raised up its pillars. He spread and covered the tent over the tabernacle, as the Lord commanded him.” The ark of the testimony was put into the tabernacle. To the naked eye, all of this would have been beautiful. But what sets this apart is that the glory of the Lord filled it! The fullness of God was manifested fully in the tabernacle. Most other religious structures are built in the name of a god or gods, but Moses built a tabernacle with the presence of the only true God. He built a tabernacle which God’s presence made holy.


The presence of the Lord came as a cloud. “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting…And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because of the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up, then they did not set out until the day that it was taken up…For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.” The glory of God came in fullness. The weight of God’s presence was among His people. His divine righteousness, faithfulness, judgment, and salvation, was fully manifested among them. He came to give life where there was only death. He gave light to the darkness. His people were holy in association of His glory fully dwelling among them. The glory of God covered His people. By day it was a cloud, and by night was fire. His glory is not a vague expression, but it is the fullness of God being manifested among His people. How beautiful would this have been to see? How awe-stricken would we be standing before the very presence of God? How awesome would it have been to have joined them on this holy journey?


Just as Moses was separated from the tabernacle because of God’s glory, we are also separated from His glory. In life, our journey is not holy. Our glory is transient. It is temporal and empty to the eternal beauty and of the manifested God. Like most man-made religions, we want to impress others. Every day we want to impress others and build a false sense of security. Much is done that benefits our ego, pride, and self-centeredness, not for the benefit of others. This is a far cry from the awesome glory of God; instead this is our sin. What we try to manifest as our own glory and beauty, we manifest our sinful condition. We collect our successes and disregard our failures. We share our successes with others in order to gain an advantage. We do this at the work place, at school, with strangers, with friends, and even with family. We want to be seen and heard and well thought of. We often want to impress others for our own gain. By impressing others, we further build our pride. However, this cycle of building and impressing continues.


In our attempt to build our pride and impress others, we have fallen short of the glory of God. We are sinners. Our sin separates us from God. Our own structures do not impress Him. Our own structures carry no weight in God’s eyes. They cannot carry out the purpose of His divine goal, which is to bring us into the fullness of eternal life. Our structures are nothing. Left to our own accord, we are empty of all glory and life. 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy!” The “loving kindness of God” creates all things from emptiness. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” In Christ, we are a new creation! In Christ, we, who were once nothing, have received eternal salvation! This indeed is good news of great joy!


Jesus’ death and resurrection was not a “Plan B” for God. The chosen people of Israel did not somehow ruin God’s first choice for salvation. Salvation was not a creation of God, but was there in the beginning. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Salvation is in Christ, who was with, and was, God, before the beginning of creation. “All things were made through Christ.”


The first Christmas, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory in full, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The person of Jesus has given us a new revelation of His glory. In Him, we may know and love the mysteries of God. He did not come as a monarch dictating the world through earthly government. Nor did He come to impress kings. Instead, He came in love. He came as a baby swaddled with clothes in a manger. The first Christmas, Eternal Life came in a world dead in sin; a world that is empty of life and exchanges light for darkness. He dwelt as the Light in a dark world. He did not come to impress, but to save. “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” God came into this world as a baby in order to make us His children.


“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory [in fullness]” The Greek for “dwelling” is to tent among us, or tabernacle among us.  Jesus is our tabernacle. Jesus is our tent. Jesus dwells among us to manifest and reveal the fullness of God’s glory. In the day He is our cloud, and at night, He is our fire. Jesus dwells among us and we separated ourselves from Him. We destroyed our Tabernacle. The flesh of our Tabernacle was pierced at Calvary. Jesus’ hands, that once gripped Mary’s finger and His feet that once kicked inside of Mary’s womb, were pierced by nails. He hung on a cross, not to impress the world, but to save it. What we destroyed, He resurrected.


Jesus continues to dwell among us in His body and His blood. He tents us in His presence. He does not dwell in cloud and fire, but in bread and wine. By the mercy of God, we participate in the fullness of Christ’s glory; as we receive His body and His blood. The same body and blood that crucified for us, still dwells among us. In baptism, God covers us in His glory by Word and water as He spreads His tent over us. We have become children of God by His mercy we have received all His attributes in fullness. We have received His love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, judgment, salvation, in fullness by the dwelling of risen Christ Jesus.


“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Merry Christmas in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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