Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Christmas Wish

From Messiah Lutheran Church's December 2011 Newsletter

This Christmas I wish there was no God. Shocking? Sure. But that’s the way my sinful nature feels. If there was no God, I could do whatever I wanted. No responsibility. No guilt. No need to buy Christmas gifts for anyone. Christmas would be a farce. A sweet little story. But utter foolishness.

Here’s the rub. Creation cries out to me that there is a Creator (Ps. 19:1). Conscience convicts me of thoughts, words, and deeds that have offended my Creator (Rom. 2:15). Christmas shouts to the world that the Creator took on flesh and moved into the neighborhood. The Son of God came to earth as a helpless infant, “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). I don’t want responsibility, but in his incarnation Jesus took on the responsibility to keep the Law of God for me and did it perfectly. I am guilty, but Jesus bore my guilt and my sin and paid for it with his own innocent and blameless life.

Christmas already points us to the cross because that’s why the Savior was born. “You shall call his name Jesus,” the angel instructed Joseph, “for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Jesus was born to save us from our rebellious hearts that wish there was no God. He loves you and me so much that he gave himself to us, a gift wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger (Luke 2:7).

Christmas is not foolishness. It is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:25). Christmas is not just a sweet little story. It is God breaking into history. Christmas is no farce. It is the endearing and enduring account of how the love of God the Father prompted him to send his Son to humble himself, to one day suffer and die for the sins of the world, and to give us the gifts of forgiveness, eternal life, the Body and Blood of the Savior in the Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Spirit, and all other temporal and eternal gifts which he lays before us.

The Good News of Christmas now prompts us to respond in faith and love toward our Creator and Redeemer. And it moves us to give gifts to others as tokens of our love for them … and hopefully reminders to all of us – both givers and receivers – of the gift that the Child of Bethlehem was and is and always will be for us.

In Christ’s service and yours,

Pastor Onken

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