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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Sermon 12252012 Christmas Day


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Almighty God, You make Yourself known unto us through Your Son Jesus Christ born in a stable.  Enable us to come on bended knee and with the shepherds make it known to all people.  For Your coming was for all of mankind, especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas morning.  AMEN.

In the Nativity Story when Joseph and Mary are headed to Bethlehem for the census, they encounter an old Shepherd watching over his flock.  Rough around the edges though he is, he invites Mary to warm up by the fire he has to keep warm.  After warming up during their long journey, Mary and Joseph continue to Bethlehem.  What is extraordinary is what occurs later that night.  The angels appear to the shepherds watching over their sheep, including this one who was so warm and caring to Mary and delivers the greatest message to them. 
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

This message from the angels to the shepherds inspired them to leave their flocks and go in search of the Christ Child laying in a manger.  Our business people of today would claim it was not good business practice leaving their sheep alone out in the field and not protecting them better, but when inspired by faith and encountering God’s angels delivering such a powerful message of the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, the city of David, the shepherds were divinely inspired to go and see this Child.

Just as the shepherds were moved to go see Christ the Lord, they have made it known to and for us today what they found.  The Nativity Story is a perfect example of the continuing message of the coming of the Savior and as we gather here this morning in celebration of His birth, we remember this great event as well.  We come, not because we have to, but because God draws us to Himself.  Last night we heard the birth narrative and this morning we hear John’s response of the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.  We are drawn to Jesus Christ because of the greatest gift He gives us, His life on the Cross of Calvary and sacrifice in order to take away our sins.  In, through and by His precious Body and Blood offered to and for us we receive not only life and salvation, but also the forgiveness of sins.

The shepherds had no idea what the implications would be, but we today having heard the same message from the last 2000 years the narrative of the Birth of the Babe in Bethlehem have a clearer picture of the divine implications of the events that the shepherds witnessed.  We look not with eyes of witness like the shepherds, but with eyes of faith given to us in our baptism and fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary.  We have been baptized into not only the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but also His birth in the manger.  Our connection is clear, because of Jesus Christ coming to set us free from sin, death and the devil.  We are connected clearly with His birth in the stable in Bethlehem and by the witness of the shepherds who heard the angels and saw the Child and today again tell of the great mystery made known to us today in His precious Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins.  May this message and witness of the shepherds inspire us to spread the message of Jesus Birth to the ends of the earth, since it is the greatest gift given to us on Christmas.  For this is the gift offered at the altar and offered for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas morning.  AMEN.
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