Christmas Day Early 2022 (Lk 2,1–20)

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“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.”

Merry Christmas!

᛭ INI ᛭

How are things? Interesting question to ask at the holidays to say the least. Things are good, hopefully. But are they really as good as we make them out to be, or we hope them to be, or plan them to be. Or is a lot of the holidays avoiding certain thoughts or conversations.

Or there’s the traditions, too. Things that are always the same. Need to be the same. The perfect Christmas might hang in the balance with them. There’s old traditions, new traditions, new traditions become old, old become new. There’s the ones passed down from generation to generation, each telling the next.

These are the things memories are made of, but are they the things that Christmas is made of? They’re not! Christmas isn’t about pickles in trees, or presents or candies, or even Pfeffernuss cookies. In fact, it’s not even about the angels or shepherds, not the star, not magi, not the oxen, sheep, or whatever other animals you may find in a Créche.

There’s only one thing that makes Christmas, Christmas. All traditions could be set safely aside for this one thing. It makes good Christmases great, awkward ones good, and bad ones have peace. No matter the Christmas you may “rest merry”—be at peace. It’s the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

But, truth be told, even that isn’t quite what makes Christmas, Christmas. “A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” is peculiar at best. A nice family birth story. (There’s a good one for 4 out my 5 children.) But it’s a matter of what causes the shepherds to rejoice. It was that everything they heard, everything they saw was “as it was told unto them.” “They found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” That was the sign they were to look for. The sign that proved “A Savior has been born for you this day, which is Christ the Lord.”

This is the good news of Christmas also for you today:

THINGS ARE JUST AS IT HAS BEEN TOLD UNTO YOU.

(2. The events in the Gospels are as you’ve been told.)

Things would never the same. (There are things that do that.) But I’m not talking about the lives of the shepherds. We don’t actually know that. Scripture is mute on that. No, the entire history of world and the trajectory of our own lives is never the same because of what actually happened, which the shepherds heard and saw.

What did they hear and see? They heard Gabriel. They heard the angel hosts. They “found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Based on what Luke records for us, it seems Mary, too, heard about what the shepherds had heard about this child. “Mary treasured up all these things in heart.” She did that throughout Jesus’ life. The people who knew Zechariah and Elizabeth also “treasured up” all the events surround their son’s birth. (That was John the Baptist.)

You’ve been told all these things before. The birth of Jesus is familiar. He was born of the Virgin Mary. The Holy Spirit caused her to become pregnant without being intimate with a man. That’s one reason Jesus is constantly called “her firstborn son.” (Context is everything.) When it comes to Christmas, and really our entire lives, the greatest comfort is that THINGS ARE JUST AS IT HAS BEEN TOLD UNTO YOU.

Again, that’s the way of things in Luke 2. What the angels said, is what the shepherds found: “The babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” Which means He is the Savior, Christ the Lord. But this is also how it is when He was doing His saving.

Of Jesus’ death by crucifixion and spear-pierced side, John, talking about his own testimony says, “He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.” Things are just as you’ve been told.

Paul confesses Jesus’ resurrection this way:

He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of them are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor 15)

THINGS ARE JUST AS IT HAS BEEN TOLD UNTO YOU.

(1. The Gifts are as you’ve been told.)

John says in his Gospel: “But to all who … believed in His name, Jesus 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.” (Jn 1) That’s just as it’s been told unto you, too.

You are a child of God. You’ve been adopted as a son (Gal 3). You’ve been crucified with Christ. (Gal 2) You’ve been given the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom 6). You’ve been clothed with Christ (Gal 3). Your conscience has been washed clean. (1 Pet 2) You are a new creation. (2 Cor 5) You’ve been given the Gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2) You’ve been given the hope of eternal life. (Tit 3) All these things are gifted in the Water and Word of Holy Baptism. There you’ve been made holy by the washing of water with the Word. (Eph 5) It really is true! All these benefits are not only offered but given in Baptism and received by faith.

But wait there’s more! If your sins have been absolved, they are indeed forgiven! (Jn 20; Mt 16; Mt 18) The Gospel, the preaching of the Gospel, the Good News of what Jesus has done for you, is “the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.” (Rom 1) “Faith comes by hearing through the Word of Christ,” (Rom 10) “the Gospel by which you are being saved.” (1 Cor 15) The Word of Christ, living and active (Heb 4), does what it saves. It also makes you holy (Jn 17), it lights your way to Jesus (Ps 119). It’s just as it says.

But wait there’s more! (Always more gifts with the Lord.) “Grace on top of grace,” as John 1 says. It is as Jesus says: “This is My body, this is My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” That’s what the bread is. That’s what the wine is. That’s what it’s all for. “The bread we break is a communion of the body of Christ. The cup of blessing is a communion of blood of Christ.” (1 Cor 10) The blessing is “forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.” (SC) Or as Jesus says elsewhere: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.” (Jn 6) It is as you’ve been told. “Whoever believes [Christ’s] words has exactly what they say: forgiveness of sins.” (SC)

(Conclusion.)

How are things? Well,

THINGS ARE JUST AS IT HAS BEEN TOLD UNTO YOU.

It makes good Christmases great, awkward ones good, and bad ones have peace. No matter the Christmas you may “rest merry”—be at peace. Look at how it was for the Shepherds, but also the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! It all happened as you’ve heard and seen. So also His Baptism, His Word, and His Supper. It means that you are God’s Child, you are forgiven, you are one with Christ, and just as Christ was raised from the dead, you too will rise.

THINGS ARE JUST AS IT HAS BEEN TOLD UNTO YOU.

Merry Christmas!

᛭ INI ᛭

Total:      1327
Outline:    79
Final:      1248

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