Sermon for Christmas Eve based on Luke 2:1-20
Dear people who celebrate the birth of our Saviour: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Christmas traditions can be nice ways to celebrate at this time of year: turkey, cranberries, and stuffing; Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Christmas presents; getting together with family, feasting, and maybe some spiced rum in your egg nog.
Christmas is, after all, a time of celebration. It is one of the great festivals of the church year, celebrating one of the most important events for Christians. It is the celebration of the eternal God taking on human flesh. He who created the heavens and the earth, joins us, His creation, by being made man.
These days, we may lament the secularization of Christmas. We may mourn over the worldly celebrations overshadowing what Christmas actually is. We may even grieve the Christmas traditions of our own families being at odds with what Christmas is about. Christmas is under attack.
This, however, is nothing new. Christmas has been under attack since the first Christmas.
We tend to think of the first Christmas as a peaceful, silent night. That’s what we sing, isn’t it? Silent stars going by. Everyone is filled with joy – joy to the world, right? The cattle are gently lowing and little baby Jesus, nice and cute, is asleep on the hay.
However, there is an attack on Christmas taking place already on the first Christmas. The devil is outraged that God would join us here on earth in such a way. He is infuriated that the angel choirs are singing praises and that shepherds care about Jesus’ birth enough to leave their flocks at night to worship the infant. The book of Revelation describes the devil as a great red dragon standing by waiting for the birth of Jesus, so that he might devour the infant when He is born (Rev. 12:1-6).
The attack on Christmas is seen as the town of Bethlehem becomes a hellish nightmare when the tyrant Herod sends soldiers to murder all the baby boys. Herod vents his rage on the little town of Bethlehem and Jesus flees to Egypt with His earthly parents. The attack continues to the point of thorns, nails, and spear piercing the human flesh of God.
Here, we arrive at the purpose of Christmas. God took on our flesh for the very purpose of dying. Jesus was born for this. He was born to be the sacrifice on our behalf. Jesus came to suffer in our place and to die for us.
When Jesus was born, salvation came to earth. He saved us by doing what we cannot do: He kept the entire Law of God with its demands of perfection in thought, word, and deed. Jesus then gave His life for all our sins of thought, word, and deed. His life was not taken from Him, but He laid it down of His own accord (John 10:18). He willingly gave up His life to save His creation, to save us who have fallen into sin.
Jesus doesn’t just offer His forgiveness to some. He doesn’t just offer it to those who have tried hard enough to do what is right. He doesn’t just offer forgiveness to those who have been faithful enough, who have attended regularly enough, who have given generously enough. None of us has done anything enough to earn the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is not impressed by anything anyone has done. In spite of what we have done and left undone, Jesus offers us all His forgiveness.
Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh to die for all mankind. As we sang, “Now the foe, Sin and woe, Death and hell are broken!” (LSB 360 st.2) That’s why we celebrate Christmas. That’s why we get together with our families and feast and celebrate. That is why Christmas means joy to the world and why angel choirs sing glory to God. If angel choirs sing in celebration, surely we, those people for whom Jesus came, will join them in singing praise and glory to God.
The world and the devil can attack Christmas all they want. They cannot take the joy of Christmas away from us. Now the foe, Sin and woe, Death and hell are broken. We celebrate because our sins are forgiven so we have peace with God. We celebrate because our ancient foe, the devil, has been defeated and is powerless to snatch us from God. We celebrate because death is defeated as Jesus rose from the dead and has promised us the resurrection of our bodies when He returns in glory.
So, celebrate this great festival with thanksgiving. Rejoice, for our Saviour has come and rescued us from every threat. Let the world do what it will, our Christmas joy cannot be taken away from us. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.