Christmas Eve 2016

December 24, 2016
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

“Unto us Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” INI + AMEN.

2,000 years ago He was given. 2,000 years ago He was born. We remember the angels, the shepherds, the manger. Is it just a nice fairy tale we listen to, to get us into the holiday spirit? The facts are there were angels, there were shepherds, Jesus was in the manger, and He was born of the Virgin Mary. Just as much as Washington crossed the Delaware 240 years ago so also some 2,000 years ago the events happened as outlined in our Gospels and told to us tonight by the children.

But what of the facts? Well, shepherds were told about it. Why? Because God knows, as we all know, and the election results prove it, that farmers and country folk are way smarter than city folk. But, all joking aside, the fact is that God had made many promises about the coming Savior, that He Himself would come as Savior. The fact is that “there was no room for them in the inn.” The fact is that “Were earth a thousand times as fair And set with gold and jewels rare, It would be far too poor and small A cradle for the Lord of all.”

The fact is that nobody cared, nobody was paying attention, and nobody was looking for the Savior when he was born…and they still don’t. We’re looking for all sorts of things: heart warming carols, good times with family, presents, food, sweets, ugly sweaters! Okay, maybe not that one. But all such expectations end with worry, sadness, emptiness, exhaustion, maybe some burned cookies and fried nerves to boot! All these other things stop us short of the manger.

The truth is we’re just like they were 2,000 years ago. We’re not expecting God in a manger. We expect God to be everywhere, and He is, but where is somewhere for you? Jesus is given to us in a place, as the shepherds were told. Jesus is a Lord who’s somewhere—born and given unto us. A gift to you. In a manger, in Words, in water, in a preacher, in body and blood.

This is why no one expects Him, whether 2,000 years ago or today. Jesus isn’t the God we want or expect, but He’s the one we’re given. No one’s looking for God in a manger, God on a cross, God in a tomb. No one’s coming and looking for that God. But those who come, and only those who come, those who are called by angels and prophecies and stars and preachers to gather where Jesus is are changed forever. That’s what God enfleshed does for you. He changes you. His love changes you.

“I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

JESUS IS GOD, THE SAVIOR, GIVEN TO US. Not the one we expect, not the one we want, but He’s the one we get. The one you get! He’s given to you! Gift for you! He changes you from earning Him to receiving Him. No naughty or nice list, no elf on the shelf with Him. He’s already been given. Not where we want, but where we need. Life and love that changes us not just for a night or 12 days or a year or a lifetime. The shepherds were called, they gathered, they were changed. Those who gather around Jesus are those who have God’s goodwill. Whenever you connect with Jesus, God born in a stable, placed in a manger, dead on cross, buried in a tomb, raised on the third day, when you experience Him in His Gifts, He changes you now and forever.

“Unto us Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” INI + AMEN.

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