“The Truth of Christmas: The Word Became Flesh” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Tuesday, December 25, 2018

“The Truth of Christmas: The Word Became Flesh” (John 1:1-18)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This is the most wonderful good news we could ever receive! It is this central truth that makes Christmas Christmas. It’s not about toys or Santa Claus or mistletoe or even getting the family together. Those are all good things, but they’re not essential to Christmas being Christmas. Christ is–he, the Word made flesh. And that’s why we’re here this morning.

People like to think of Christmas as something soft and fluffy, full of warm and fuzzy feelings. Curled up on the couch, watching a Hallmark movie. Christmas as hot chocolate for the soul. But to reduce Christmas to that–well, that falls way short. Christmas is not cute and cuddly. Christmas is raw and real. Christ came into our world to deal with the root problem of humanity, which is sin. Christ came in the flesh, because that’s the only way it could happen. Christmas is earthy, not fluffy. It is flesh-and-blood reality that brings God to us, up close and personal. And that is what makes the real Christmas ultimately so offensive to the world.

But to us who know the truth of Christmas, its “fleshiness” is absolutely crucial and vital. Our very salvation depends on it! And so the church must always be vigilant about confessing “The Truth of Christmas: The Word Became Flesh.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2018 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“What Child Is This?” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Monday, December 24, 2018

“What Child Is This?” (Luke 2:1-20)

When a child is born, there are questions that people typically ask. Parents wonder, “Is he healthy?” “How much does he weigh?” Grandparents ask, “What did you name her?” “Who does she look like?” Nurses and doctors closely examine the child and want to know, “Is he alert?” “Are her lungs clear?” We expect those kinds of questions.

But there are other questions we never expect to hear at the birth of a child. No one would ever think to ask, “Who will handle his funeral arrangements someday?” Or, “What cemetery do you think he’ll be buried in?” Or, “What will cause his death?” The Scriptures say, “For everything there is a season.” And the season for asking about a person’s death is usually not at his or her birth.

The hymn we just sang asks a very unusual question about a child born in Bethlehem: “What Child Is This?” However, it is a fitting question, because this child is born in a most unusual way. His mother is a virgin. His birth is announced by a heavenly host of angels praising God. So, what child is this? The wonderful answer is proclaimed by the angel: “I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

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Published in: on December 22, 2018 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“And the Word Became Flesh” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Monday, December 25, 2017

“And the Word Became Flesh” (John 1:1-18)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Christmas marks a dividing line between truth and error. The reality of what happened at Christmas–namely, that the Word became flesh–that reality is so shocking, so utterly unreasonable and offensive, that it drives people crazy. It causes them to deny the truth and to promote error in its place. Most all the classic heresies that have been around for 2,000 years now, in various forms, have this in common: They cannot handle the truth of Christmas. They cannot stand the idea that the Word, the eternal Son of God, had to become flesh, with all the implications that flow out of that.

Now we like to think of Christmas as kinda soft and fluffy and inoffensive. Cute and cuddly. But to reduce Christmas to that–well, nothing could be further from the truth. Christmas is not “cute.” Rather, it is raw reality that deals with the root problem of humanity. It is earthy, not fluffy. It is flesh-and-blood stuff that brings God to us up-close and personal. And that is why ultimately it is so shocking and controversial. But to us who know the truth of Christmas, its “fleshiness” is absolutely crucial. Your very salvation depends on it! And so the church must always be vigilant about confessing this truth: “And the Word Became Flesh.”

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Published in: on December 25, 2017 at 12:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Sunday, December 24, 2017

“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (Luke 2:1-20)

For our Christmas Eve homily tonight, I thought I’d let Luther lead the way. This is the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation, after all, and Martin Luther wrote and preached much on the wonder and the mystery of Christ’s birth. It was a favorite theme of his. So tonight we’ll use Luther’s great Christmas hymn, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” as the basis for our meditation. You’ll find it as Hymn 358 in your Lutheran Service Book.

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Published in: on December 24, 2017 at 6:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“On the Eighth Day of Christmas: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus” (Luke 2:21)

Circumcision and Name of Jesus
Sunday, January 1, 2017

“On the Eighth Day of Christmas: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus” (Luke 2:21)

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me . . . the circumcision and name of Jesus? Huh? What? Yeah, well, that’s what happened on this day. On the eighth day of Christmas, God’s true love gave to me–and to you, to us–the circumcision and name of Jesus.

That’s what our text says, the Holy Gospel for this day, Luke 2:21, which reads again as follows, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” Just one verse, the shortest reading for any Sunday or festival in the church year. Just one verse, but this text speaks volumes about God’s true and profound love for us in Christ. And so our theme for this New Year’s Day, “On the Eighth Day of Christmas: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus.”

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Published in: on December 30, 2016 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“And the Government Shall Be upon His Shoulder” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25, 2016

“And the Government Shall Be upon His Shoulder” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

About 26 days from now, we’re going to have a change in our government. A new president will take the oath of office, and a new administration will take over. For some people this will be a welcome change; for others, it will mean weeping and gnashing of teeth. But in any case, there will be a new president, and the weight of the White House will rest upon his shoulders.

Well, I’m here to tell you today, the most important change in administrations has already taken place, and it happened about 2,016 years ago. That’s when a new king was born, a king whose reign surpasses all others. And the good news is, you belong to his kingdom. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” “And the Government Shall Be upon His Shoulder.”

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Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Isaiah Foretold It, Jesus Fulfilled It” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

[Note: Isaiah 7 is a reading both for the Fourth Sunday in Advent and for Christmas Eve. Since the congregation did not get to hear Sunday’s sermon due to weather, and since I’ve been doing a series on the Isaiah texts, I reworked that sermon for Christmas Eve. Pastor Henrickson]

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Saturday, December 24, 2016

“Isaiah Foretold It, Jesus Fulfilled It” (Isaiah 7:10-17)

In the hymn we just sang, “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” there’s this line, “Isaiah ’twas foretold it.” And yes, it was Isaiah who did foretell it. But what was it that Isaiah foretold? Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus Christ. The gospel writer Matthew tells us as much, that this is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. He writes: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” So clearly the birth of Jesus is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy. Jesus is “God with us” in the profoundest way. And thus our theme for this evening: “Isaiah Foretold It, Jesus Fulfilled It.”

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Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Things of My Father” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2016

“The Things of My Father” (Luke 2:40-52)

Maybe you’ve seen the GEICO commercial of Peter Pan going to a class reunion. Peter Pan is portrayed as a twelve-year-old boy who has never grown up. His classmates, though, have aged naturally, and now they’re all in their upper sixties. As a twelve-year-old boy, Peter is still young and immature and kind of smart-alecky. He tricks one man into going for a high-five, but then Peter pokes him in the stomach. And to a woman who presumably is about 67 or 68, he says, “You don’t look a day over seventy, am I right?” Well, you just want to slap that kid around a bit, don’t you? A twelve-year old boy, young and immature and kind of smart-alecky.

I’m reminded of that commercial when I read the story of Jesus as a twelve-year-old boy. He too could come across as young and immature and kind of smart-alecky. He doesn’t bother to tell Joseph and Mary that he’s staying behind in Jerusalem, and when his parents discover that he’s missing, they search frantically for him. Not finding him in the group, they have to go back to Jerusalem and look for him there. Eventually they do find Jesus, he’s in the temple, and Mary says, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” And what does Jesus say? “Gee, Mom, I’m sorry! I should have told you and Dad what I was doing.” Does he say that? No. Instead, it’s “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Disrespectful kid! Typical twelve-old-boy, young and immature and kind of smart-alecky.

Is that what’s going on here? No, of course not. This is Jesus we’re talking about, not Peter Pan in a commercial. And Jesus, contrary to being disrespectful to his parents, was, as our text says, “submissive to them.” And far from being immature, Jesus was “filled with wisdom.” A wisdom far beyond his years. A wisdom which, in fact, he was using and putting on display, there in the temple. That’s why Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. He had work to do there, there in the temple. He had a higher priority to attend to. A higher allegiance that even outranked his devotion to Joseph and Mary. Jesus had higher things to be about, namely, as he says, “The Things of My Father.”

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Published in: on January 2, 2016 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Friday, December 25, 2015

“The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us” (John 1:1-18)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This verse, John 1:14, is one of the most profound sentences ever written. Because it expresses and puts into words one of the most profound mysteries that has ever occurred in human history: that the eternal Son of God, through whom all things were created, at a certain point in time took on human flesh, became our brother, and that this is the greatest gift you or I will ever receive. This is the miracle of Christmas. God dwelt among us. And so our theme this morning on this glorious Christmas Day: “The Word Became Flesh and Tabernacled among Us.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Born for You a Savior” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24, 2015

“Born for You a Savior” (Luke 2:1-20)

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” So the angel brought the good news of great joy to the shepherds. And so the good news comes to us tonight: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Let’s consider now, and let us rejoice in, this glorious announcement, under the theme, “Born for You a Savior.”

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Published in: on December 24, 2015 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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