Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Gospel Sermon Gem

I wanted to pass along a portion of this sermon gem I recently discovered on the announcement of the Christmas angel.

“Unto to you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord!” - Luke 2:11

To whom is this joyful news to be proclaimed? To those who are faint-hearted and feel the burden of their sins, like the shepherds to whom the angels first proclaimed this message, letting the lords in Jerusalem, who do not accept it, go on sleeping.

The angel’s announcement makes clear that we are not only to believe that God has become a human being – a baby! – but also that this little one is the Lord of angels and the Savior of all people. Anyone can understand the words as they stand on the page, but so many do not believe them or perceive the great and eternal joy that is most certainly ours in this Child alone! To simply acknowledge the birth of Jesus as an historical fact is not yet Christian faith. To place your trust in this Savior-Child alone for all things good, both now and in eternity: this is truly the Christian faith, namely, faith in Christ!

This is our teaching, which we preach in order that we may understand what the angel is aiming at with his words. Yes, Mary gave birth to the child, took him to her breast and nursed him, and the Father in heaven has his Son lying in the manger and the mother’s lap. But why did God do all this? Why does Mary guard the child as a mother should? Our warped reason answers: This happens that we might make Mary our idol, that honor may be paid to the mother. Mary becomes all this without her knowledge or consent, and all the songs and glory and honor are addressed to the mother. And yet the angel’s words do not proclaim the honor of the mother, for the angel says, “I bring you good news of great joy, for unto you the Savior is born today.”

I am to place my trust in this Child and in his birth and to forget the mother, as far as this is possible, although her part is certainly acknowledged since with every birth there must be a mother. Nevertheless, we dare not put our faith in the mother but only in the fact that the Child was born. And the angel desired that we should see nothing but the Child who is born, just as the angels themselves – as though they were blind! – saw nothing but the Child born of the virgin and desired that all created things should be nothing compared to this Child; indeed, that we should desire nothing – whether it be harps, gold, goods, honor, power, etc. – more than the message of this angel. For even if I receive the costliest and best thing in all the world, it still does not have the name “Savior.” …

When I die I will see nothing but black darkness, and yet this light – “unto you is born this day a Savior” – remains in my eyes and fills all heaven and earth. The Savior alone will and can help me when all others have forsaken me. So great is the light that declares this Child as my Savior that I can say: “Mary, you did not bear this child for yourself alone. The child is not yours; you did not bear him for yourself alone, for you call your Son "my Savior" (Luke 1:47), confessing your need for one. No, you have born him also for me, even though you are his mother, even though you held him in your arms and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and picked him up and laid him down. But I have a greater honor than your honor as his mother. For your honor pertains only to your giving birth to this Child’s body. But my honor is this: I know and trust that Jesus is my eternal Treasure. I know of no one – neither human being nor angel – who can help me except this Child whom you, O Mary, hold in your arms.”

If I set up any savior except this Child, no matter who or what it is or is called, then Jesus is not my Savior. But the angel says that Jesus alone is my Savior. And if this is true – and it is the truth – then let everything else go.