Christmas Day Service
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written in Matthew chapter 1: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.Thus far the text.
Let us pray: O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that we joyfully receive Him this morning as our Redeemer; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon – Promises of God and Faith
Everything that is good comes from God. We have plenty of opportunities to mess up what God gives us, but He still generously and patiently provides for us.
Most people will attribute various blessings to God. They see the wonders of Creation and also the special blessings of human life. God has provided and arranged an intricate combination of dependencies, which are worth dwelling on because each depends on the other. Our medicines came mostly from plants and herbs until WWII. Those herbs provide medical properties on one hand and on the other generally favor poor soil making the soil good for other plants. Some herbs will not grow in good soil.
Our miracle drug penicillin is bread mold, used for infections. It was not discovered by Fleming so much as re-discovered when the mold spores killed bacteria in his messy lab. How many lives have been saved since? Scientists took note and began sifting through molds and soils to find additional antibiotics.
Faith, Which Is Good, Comes from God
Faith is a universal quality, which changes thoughts and actions based upon the object of that faith. Some have faith in magic and the occult. Others have faith in science alone. Others believe in a tyrannical government like Stalinism.
When Christians use the term faith, they mean faith in the Holy Trinity, especially faith in Jesus Christ - the human face and voice of God.
This faith does not come from intellectual pursuits or from making a decision. Those who imagine this are bound to fall into all kinds of errors. Anyone who thinks of faith in a distorted way with have a distorted faith. That distortion is why people promote the idea of selling people on Christianity or telling them they have to make a decision.
The Promises and blessings of God are the work of the Holy Spirit in the Word to plant faith in our hearts and to strengthen and nurture that faith.
Anyone who disparages faith in Christ is simply attacking the work of God in the Word. That is how Jesus identified His mission so many times in John's Gospel - the work of God. So the disciples asked, "What is our work?" And Jesus said, "To believe in Me."
Just as Creation shows us many dependencies, so the Scriptures show us passage after passage that relates to many other passages. In fact, they are all linked as one, but we need to study and remember them to see how vast this relationship is.
Hundreds of promises in the Old Testament show us fulfillment, but also many other relationships, such as among the 500 references to shepherds and shepherding, sheep, lambs, and so forth. How can we not think about the binding of Isaac and the ram substituted for him? A male sheep substituted for the first-born son. And then later, the blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts, and the spotless lamb was sacrificed for each Passover meal.
So people do not need more persuasion or more incentives (like popcorn and soda during church) but more Promises and Blessings of God.
The Easter Vigil strikes many as powerful. Most of that service consists of readings from the Old Testament leading up to the resurrection of Christ. The readings alone provided the awe, majesty, and power of Jesus rising from the dead.
Likewise, great hymns put these thoughts into a condensed form that we can appreciate as we sing them to ourselves or remember them during the week.
We should remember that every time we hear the word Gospel. The Book of Concord authors liked to say the Promises of God as another way to the Gospel.
God promises much:
God promises a Savior, God becoming man, having both natures, human and divine.
God promises forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus.
In parables, God promises various blessings from remaining in the Means of Grace - fruits of the Spirit, bearing fruit, growth in those Gospel attributes: Galatians 5, John 15, Matthew 13.
God promises eternal life with the blessed Trinity and fellow believers.
God promises joy and peace on earth from the power of the Gospel in our lives; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
The peace, which passes understanding, protect and keep your body and soul in the Christmas Child, Our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.