December 31, 2015
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
January 1, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
All things are new. It’s time for a new beginning. The old is passing away. The new is here. The old year is dead and gone. Baby New Year isn’t lost, but has been born with a whole 366 days of new possibilities, new ways to make yourself into a better person or, at least, close to the person you’d like to be. The world knows how to set you up for these new opportunities. Well, the world wants YOU to set yourself up for these new opportunities. Look at yourself, judge yourself, think about where you fall short of your own expectations, and then come up with some resolutions of what you want to do to make yourself smarter (read more books), more attractive (join a gym), more loving (volunteer). Resolutions are always self-focused. But year in year out their’s the trumpet call for resolutions. It’s like a yearly game we play because—let’s be honest—no matter what the resolution is we’ll be over and done with it by the end of January, maybe a little longer if we really stick to it.
(3. It’s not our time.)
“It’s my time to shine this year.” That’s our hope every New Year’s. What are you looking forward to in 2016? What can I expect to get? What’s in store for me? What’s the future hold? We think if we put in the time and effort that things will turn out better for us. In some sense that true, and that’s where these resolutions come in. I mean, if you spend more time hitting the weights, you’ll be able to lift more. So it’s true in some respect in this life. The problem is we gravitate toward thinking that it works that way with God too. If we say enough prayers, do enough good deeds, God will be pleased with us. If we say enough blessings, blessings will follow. That’s “power of positive thinking” mumbo jumbo and not Christianity.
(2. It’s Jesus’ time.)
You see, it’s not our time, and what we remember tonight shows it. God does things completely differently than we expect. He’s got a different way about Him. He’s not a quid-pro-quo God, a this-for-that God, a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours kind of God. He’s not anywhere close to that. His timetable isn’t our timetable. He operates on a completely different schedule. He operates on Jesus time. He created sun, moon, and stars “for signs and seasons, and for days and years.” And the Church uses them to remember Jesus time. The Church has her own calendar to remember the life of Jesus. In fact, it’s the eighth day of Christmas. But this eighth day of Christmas is an important day to remember. The sun and moon had fulfilled their sanctified purpose: “When eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” Those days were fulfilled. All time had been waiting for this moment. God Himself, eight days old, is circumcised.
(1. It’s Jesus’ way.)
That’s not only the timing of things. It’s God’s way of things. It’s not a way of law. Well, not law for you. Well, not the law as a game, like it is with resolutions. Resolutions are laws we make and when we break them we just wink at ‘em and move on. There’s no such law with God. There’s His Law, His “be perfect” Law. His way is different. He keeps the Law in our place, and He’s resolved to do it. He won’t not do it. He won’t say He’s going to do it and then just wink and move on when He doesn’t. That’s not God’s way. We can see He’s serious about it. It’s all in His name: “His name was called JESUS, the one announced by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.” His name is one of blessing and keeping, of the Father’s smiling face, of grace and peace. “Jesus” is the “name of wondrous love.” It is the name above every name, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
His name shows the way of things. Jesus receives His name the day He first bleeds for you. It’s the redemption way Jesus brings in. He saves His people from their sins. He saves you from your sins. That’s what His name means: Jesus, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ: “Yahweh saves.” He’s not just named it. He lives it for you. “On the eighth day, He was circumcised.” God bleeds as a baby for you. He is under the Law, God’s Law, for you. His “holy, precious blood” redeems you. At eight days old, it’s a sign and symbol that He will die for you to redeem you. Jesus as dutiful son, gives you sonship, makes you a son of God. He does this His whole life. His entire life is one of redemption. The blood of Jesus—God’s blood—redeems you. “The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin.” We are pure and white, like the color on the altar because of the blood Jesus shed for us, shed at eight days old, at 33 years old. The blood flowing through Jesus’ veins, God’s veins, redeems us. The same blood He gives us to drink in His Supper. We drink of the redemption that He sheds for us first on this day, eight days after His birth.
All of time built up to this moment. When God took up our flesh and was born of the virgin Mary. He’s resolved to save us. It’s not a passing whim. It’s not a bargaining chip for a better outcome. It’s our very salvation. We were under the Law, God’s Law. We’re Law beings. It’s why it’s so natural for us to think things work in a this-for-that way. But God’s way is a different way. His is the redemption way. God’s way is the Jesus way. Jesus, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ: “Yahweh saves.” It’s Jesus’ way and Jesus’ time. Eight days old He does it. Sheds His blood, under the Law, for you. It’s at the right time, the perfect time, the fulness of time.All things are new. It’s time for a new beginning. The old has passed away. The new is here. Today, Jesus is circumcised and named “Jesus”, it’s all as Paul says:
WHEN THE FULNESS OF TIME CAME, GOD SENT FORTH HIS SON, BORN OF A WOMAN, BORN UNDER THE LAW, TO REDEEM THOSE UNDER THE LAW, THAT WE WOULD RECEIVE SONSHIP.
God’s blood redeems you, even when He was eight days old. Now that makes for a truly Happy New Year and a very Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas!
INI + AMEN.