“Christ’s Birthday Is Our Birthday, Too” (John 1:1-14)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Sunday, December 25, 2011

“Christ’s Birthday Is Our Birthday, Too” (John 1:1-14)

Whose birthday is it today? Well, that’s a good question. Of course, we’re celebrating the birth of Christ. It’s Christmas, after all. But at the same time, it is through Christmas, through the birth of Christ in the flesh, that other children are born, too–namely, the children of God. That’s us. And so today we’re celebrating the birth of Christ, first and foremost, but also with it, our own birth as God’s children. I can put our message today into one sentence: The Son of God became man, so that the sons of men could become the children of God. Let me repeat that: The Son of God became man, so that the sons of men could become the children of God. Or to put it more simply: “Christ’s Birthday Is Our Birthday, Too.”

(more…)

Advertisements
Published in: on December 24, 2011 at 4:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“Home for the Holidays” (Luke 2:1-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Saturday, December 24, 2011

“Home for the Holidays” (Luke 2:1-20)

“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.” So goes the familiar Christmas song. And it is good to be home, with family, at Christmas time. Renewed relations, good food, smiles on all the faces. There’s a fire in the fireplace, and you’re sitting in the living room, opening presents by the Christmas tree. Perry Como is singing in the background. Como, cocoa, cookies, and kids–a Christmas right out of Norman Rockwell. Very nice.

But tonight I want to tell you about something even better than that. What it really means to be home for the holidays. Really home. Your true home. For the holidays, the holy days, and beyond. It’s all wrapped up in the Christmas Gospel you just heard. Where your home is. And the answer is, where Christ is. To be where Christ is, that is really what it means to be “Home for the Holidays.”

(more…)

Published in: on December 23, 2011 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“Adopted as Sons” (Ephesians 1:3-14)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 2, 2011

“Adopted as Sons” (Ephesians 1:3-14)

It is a terrible thing to be rootless, family-less, fatherless, not having a father. I can tell you from personal experience. My father died when I was one year old, and I can tell you that growing up without a father was no fun. All the other kids had dads; why didn’t I? There was this big gap in my life. This state of fatherlessness always weighed on my mind, and I’m pretty sure it held me back in life.

On the other hand, one of the greatest joys I’ve had in life is being a father. I love having a child to love and take care of. And I hope I’m building a solid foundation for my daughter in her life, by being her father.

The relationship of a father with his children is one of the most wonderful things in human experience. And when it’s not there, there is a terrible void.

Now multiply both sides of that equation by a thousandfold, and you begin to get the import and the blessing of having God as our Father–or the lack thereof. The good news for us today is that you and I are not fatherless. For we have been “Adopted as Sons.”

(more…)

Published in: on January 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“Having a Bad Christmas?” (Matthew 2:13-23)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 26, 2010

“Having a Bad Christmas?” (Matthew 2:13-23)

Having a bad Christmas? Hey, this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year! The hap-happiest season of all! C’mon, get with the program! What’s the matter with you?

Well, maybe nothing. For I tell you, some of the Christmas cheer in our society is as superficial and phony as an artificial tree covering up a bad spot in the living room. It’s just a temporary fix, a forced cheerfulness without any substance to it. It’s “Happy holidays” without the holy days. It’s “Christmas” without either the Christ or the Mass. It’s “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Baby,” but no baby in a manger, certainly not one who came to be our Savior from sin. An artificial Christmas for superficial souls. Thankfully, that Christmas, the world’s Christmas, is just about over. Tomorrow the Christmas radio stations will resume their regular programming, and people will continue to not think about Jesus.

(more…)

Published in: on December 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

“John’s Profound Prologue: The Mystery of Christmas” (John 1:1-18)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Saturday, December 25, 2010

“John’s Profound Prologue: The Mystery of Christmas” (John 1:1-18)

The Holy Gospel for Christmas Day, John 1:1-18, which you just heard–this is usually called the “Prologue” of John’s Gospel, since this opening passage introduces many of the major themes to be developed throughout the rest of the book.

Now if there were a contest for the most profound passage in the Bible, I think John’s Prologue might win the prize. Nowhere are the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith expressed more deeply, and yet more simply, than here in this passage. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity; the doctrine of the person of Christ, his dual nature; the work of Christ, by which we are saved–all of these are caught and captured in the simplest of language, brief and succinct, and yet never to be fully plumbed in their depth. It’s like an ocean: so deep and wide you can never finish exploring it, yet you can get in the water and splash around joyfully like a little child. John has a knack for putting the deepest truths in the simplest of language, and that gift is fully on display here in our text. Only eighteen verses, and any preacher could easily get eighteen sermons out of it, there’s so much here.

And so this passage is perfect for Christmas. For here we find the astonishing, amazing, wonderful truth of what really happened on this day: The eternal God, who created all things, came in the flesh to be our Savior. There is nothing more profound and mysterious than this. Just try to wrap your mind around it. And yet it is so plainly stated. It’s kind of like the greatest Christmas present in the world, wrapped in a plain brown wrapper. A great treasure, hidden in plain sight. That’s what we have this morning as we explore “John’s Profound Prologue: The Mystery of Christmas.”

(more…)

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 4:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Friday, December 24, 2010

“The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning” (Isaiah 9:2-7)

“The era of big government is over.” So declared President Bill Clinton in his State of the Union address in January of 1996. Of course, in the fifteen years since then, our big government has gotten even bigger. The size and scope of the federal government, its power, its spending, its intrusion into our lives–way beyond the limits set for it by the Constitution–big government is bigger than ever. “The era of big government is over”? Really? I must have missed it.

As you may have guessed, and as anybody who knows me could tell you, I am an adamant opponent of big government. So it may come to you as a bit of a surprise when I tell you that tonight’s message–and this is something I’m actually happy about–the message for us on this Christmas Eve is this: “The Era of Big Government Is Just Beginning.”

(more…)

Published in: on December 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

“Perfectly Natural: Growing in Wisdom and Favor” (Luke 2:40-52)

Second Sunday after Christmas
January 3, 2010

“Perfectly Natural: Growing in Wisdom and Favor” (Luke 2:40-52)

Our Gospel reading today is framed by two verses that are as amazing as anything you will ever read. The first verse of our text says: “And the child [Jesus] grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.” And the concluding verse reads: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

Now this is amazing. Really. But you say: “What’s so amazing? The child Jesus grew and developed, physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially. It sounds perfectly natural.” But that’s just the point! It does sound natural. Jesus grows and develops like any child would. But this raises the question: How could Jesus, the one and only Son of God from eternity, be “Growing in Wisdom and Favor”? Didn’t he already have all that from the get-go? And then, to add to the mystery: Yes, in Jesus’ case, his growth and development is “Perfectly Natural.” It’s like any other child’s, except perfect, no sin to mar the picture. And so our text today goes to the mystery of the Incarnation: the person, identity, and saving work of Jesus Christ, and thus with it, your very life and salvation.

(more…)

Published in: on January 3, 2010 at 12:25 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

“The Firstborn Son Is Presented in the Temple” (Luke 2:22-40)

First Sunday after Christmas
December 27, 2009

“The Firstborn Son Is Presented in the Temple” (Luke 2:22-40)

There’s Christmas, and then there are the days after Christmas. What happened to baby Jesus in the days and weeks after his birth? Our text today is one the few places where we have an account of what happened during that time. It’s the story of the Presentation of Our Lord, forty days after his birth, the day when “The Firstborn Son Is Presented in the Temple.”

(more…)

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

“Our Response to Christmas: Proclaiming, Pondering, and Praising” (Luke 2:15-20)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day
Friday, December 25, 2009

“Our Response to Christmas: Proclaiming, Pondering, and Praising” (Luke 2:15-20)

Last night, on Christmas Eve, we heard about “The Baby and the Birth Announcement,” the great work God did in sending us both the Savior and the angel to tell us about it. The miracle of Christmas is twofold: 1) the birth of the baby itself, and 2) the birth announcement, telling us who this child is, that he is none other than the Savior, Christ the Lord. We need both and we have both, the baby and the birth announcement. These are God’s Christmas presents to us.

Now this morning, on Christmas Day, we want to talk about “Our Response to Christmas.” In other words, now that we have heard the good news of great joy, how do we respond? Our “stand-ins” in the story today will be the shepherds and Mary, and we will see ourselves in how they respond, which is in three ways, “Proclaiming, Pondering, and Praising.”

(more…)

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

“The Baby and the Birth Announcement” (Luke 2:1-14)

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
Thursday, December 24, 2009

“The Baby and the Birth Announcement” (Luke 2:1-14)

The birth of a baby is a joyous event, but only if you know about it. With the birth of the baby, you need a birth announcement, in order to know what kind of child it is, when it came, and so on. Only then can you rejoice, when you know what has happened. If that is true with ordinary births of ordinary babies, how much more is it true of the birth of a certain child in Bethlehem so long ago, the most extraordinary birth of the most extraordinary baby ever born. The miracle of Christmas is both “The Baby and the Birth Announcement,” and it is only with both that we can have a merry, joyous Christmas.

(more…)

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,