Christmas Eve Sermonette
In the name of Jesus, our newborn Savior, dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This evening the theme of our children’s service is “Jesus Name of Wondrous Love.” The names that Scripture gives to Jesus give us a lot of information about who Jesus is and what He came to do. But I just want to focus on one of those names: Immanuel. It’s just one word in Hebrew, but in English it’s three words: God with us. So, what I want to do this evening is break that apart- what does each word mean: God… with… us.
God – Jesus is God. Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father who in time took on human flesh and became one of us. We hear it in the angel’s announcement: “A Savior has been born for you; He is Christ the Lord.” So, as we peer into that manger and see a little baby not only are we looking at someone who is fully, 100% human like us, we also see someone who is fully, 100% God Himself. Not just a part of God or a representation of God, but God.
And here’s why that’s so important. Our situation is so dire, is so otherwise completely hopeless, so desperate that the only way to save us was for GOD to come into our world to die on a cross to save us. That’s incredible. Getting to heaven isn’t about living a good life, doing a lot of nice and decent and moral things, it’s not about living up to a certain standard. What this is telling us is that we’re so wretched and helpless that only God Himself could save us!
But this is what’s so beautiful! GOD came to save you! GOD came to rescue you! And that means your salvation is sure and certain because GOD Himself did it! That’s the first point: Jesus is God.
Second, God WITH us. Now, who is God? Do you remember what it was like for the people of Israel when God showed up on Mount Sinai when he gave the ten commandments? Do you know? Thunder, lightning, thick cloud, very loud trumpet blast that kept getting louder, smoke billowing up like a furnace, the whole mountain trembled. The people were terrified. Or, what about when God appeared to Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 6? The Lord seated on His throne, high and exalted, the train of his robe filled the temple, a chorus of angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The doorposts and threshold of the temple shook, the temple was filled with smoke. Isaiah was terrified. Why does God’s presence terrify? Because we humans are sinful and corrupt, but God is absolutely holy. We have no right to be in God’s presence, to be with God.
That’s God! Now try looking at the sun. Actually don’t. If you try to look at the sun, at best all you see is a blur, but at worst it will burn out your retina- it’s that powerful, that glorious. But God is infinitely more glorious than the sun! In order to look at the sun you need a filter. In order to see God you need a filter.
“The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” We sing it. “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity!”
Our God with us. We need a veil, we need a filter to see God. And so what do we have? He came so lowly. Not in a palace, a mansion, or a castle, but in a stable, a manger and even that he has to borrow from cattle. So small, so fragile, so gentle. Why? Martin Luther said, “There’s nothing to fear in a baby.” Anyone can hold a little baby, it’s one of life’s greatest moments to hold a little sleeping infant baby in your arms. That’s exactly it, right? He didn’t have to, but he came so small, so gently not to frighten or terrify us with His power and might, but He came to woo us, to win us, to draw us to Himself with his compassionate, gracious and forgiving love. He’s God WITH us.
And finally, God with US.
He knew us in all of the ugliness of our sin, He knew what He was getting into, He knew he’d be beaten, spit up on, ignored, betrayed, He knew Roman nails would pierce His hands and feet. He knew He’d die. But He still came.
I know who I am, I know what I’ve done, I know what I’ve failed to do, but then I see it again: For us a child is born to us a Son is given, I bring YOU good news of great joy that will be for all the people, today in the town of David a Savior has been born…for…YOU! He knew you in all your sin, in all your filth, in all your weaknesses and failures, and yet, He came. He came for you, He came to live for you, to die for you, to open heaven’s doors for YOU!
God with us. What a name! A name of wondrous love! Look at what God did to get near you- he came all the way from heaven to earth to be near you. Now, what are you doing to get near to him? What are you doing to be with Him? God came all the way from heaven to earth to be near you, claw your way through anything and everything in your life in order to be near him. Amen.
Father, from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise. May we take to heart the words of the children this evening as they share the glorious truth of Christmas- God with us. You came into our world to rescue and save us that we might be with you eternally. As you drew so near to us, move each of us to an ever greater determination to be near to you through your Word and Sacraments. Amen.