Sermon for Christmas Eve based on Luke 2:1-20
Dear people who celebrate Christmas: grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The devil wants us to celebrate Christmas. He wants us to get together with family and eat and drink and be merry. He wants us to put on pageants and shows, to give and receive presents, to put up all kinds of decorations, and even sing some of the popular Christmas carols.
The busier we are with celebrating Christmas in these ways, the more we will miss Christmas entirely. Christmas is not about family. Christmas is not about presents. Christmas is not about eating and drinking. Christmas is about God taking on human flesh to live and die for us because of our sin. More often than not, it seems like Christ is the least important part of Christmas. That is exactly the kind of celebrating the devil wants.
The devil wants you to celebrate Christmas so long as you are distracted from knowing who Christ is, why He came, or what fruit He produces in us.
The reason why Christ has become a less and less important part of Christmas, is that He has become a less and less important part of life in general. Christ is treated as a sort of side dish to the great feast of our lives, or He is treated like the turkey in a Christmas meal: you kind of think He should be part of the meal, but only if smothered in lots of gravy, dressing, cranberry sauce, and followed by a sip of white wine to wash it down.
Christ loses importance to those who forget the ancient curse of sin that has doomed to death the whole universe. We can see this curse all around us in sickness, death, lies, slander, gossip, discontentment, violence, natural disasters, and so on. Everything that is wrong in the world is because of us and our sin, yet in our stupidity, we are more likely to point the finger at God for everything that is wrong.
The coming of God in the flesh at Christmas was to fix everything that is wrong. Christ came to take the ancient curse of sin onto Himself. He took the sin of everyone from Adam to you and your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Christ did this through His suffering and death. It is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Thus, Christ, by His crucifixion on the cross redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13, cf. Deut. 23:23). He redeemed us from sin, which means that He freed us from the slavery of sin and the curse of eternal death that is the due punishment of sin.
Christ came to save us from hell and to bring us into the new heavens and the new earth which are perfect and without sin or blemish. He came to save us from this world of suffering and death to Paradise, where there is neither.
To show how unimportant are all the celebrations and feasting and all the other stuff we tend to hold dear, Christ shows us that He cares nothing for it. He came in poverty and humility so that we would understand what is truly important.
Christ chose to be born to a young woman in a working class family. He chose to be born at a time when the governing authorities were forcing everyone to go to their hometowns to be registered for taxing purposes, and Mary and Joseph were forced to leave their home for a long journey right when Mary was about to give birth. Christ shows how He cares nothing for the luxuries of this world, as He was born in a lowly manger because there was no room anywhere else for them. Mary did not even have the customary preparations and help other women would have at such a time.
This is the first picture with which Christ puts the world to shame. Christ makes way for others. Others fill the houses and apartments, the inns and hotels. They feast in them. They eat, drink, and are merry. Many a wicked man sat as head of table being honoured as lord, while the the creator of the universe, the God of heaven and earth lies in an animal feeding trough.
He whom the sea and wind obey
Doth come to serve the sinner in great meekness.
Thou, God’s own Son, With us art one,
Dost join us and our children in our weakness. (LSB 372 st. 2)
Christ does this to show you what is important. We have heard who Christ is and why He came, this is where we get to the fruit that He produces in us. Christ is God in the flesh, who came to save us from our sin and show us how unimportant are all the things that the world holds dear. The fruit that this bears in us is that we cling to Christ in faith instead of clinging to what the world holds dear.
This does not mean that we don’t have feasts or that we don’t get together with family. It doesn’t mean that we refuse to put up decorations or don’t give presents. It means that we cling to Christ and what He has done as of the greatest importance; that we would be willing to give up and lose all these other things rather than lose Christ.
Who Christ is and why He came also produce the fruit in us that we seek more and more to follow His example of making way for others. Of giving to others. Of not seeking our own good, but the good of others. When Christ changes our hearts so that we don’t cling to the things of this world, He gives us generous hearts to help those who are in need with the things of this world.
This is not what the devil wants you to hear at Christmas, and it’s not what he wants you to do. But not even he can change who Christ is or undo what Christ has done, and not even he can take your heart away from Christ no matter what worldly things he tempts you with.
The world may hold Her wealth and gold;
But thou, my heart, keep Christ as thy true treasure.
To Him hold fast Until at last
A crown be thine and honour in full measure. (LSB 372 st. 6) Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.