S-1158 12/27/09 1SAC/3C (O)
Texts: Exodus 13:1-3a 11-15; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:22-40
Theme: “Set Apart” (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-12).
Question: “Have you seen the Salvation of the Lord?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fourth Sunday in Advent is from the Gospel Lesson: “The LORD said to Moses, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine…When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s.” (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-12).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU (this sermon was not preached due to the inclement weather)
People of God, A Blessed Christmas to you my Beloved and His Beloved,
Two turtle doves - the gift for this, the Second Day of Christmas, are what Mary and Joseph brought with them on the 40th day of Jesus' young life as they brought Him to the Temple to provide the sacrifice of the of the Firstborn. Consecrate the Firstborn to the Lord - this is the command given in Exodus 13 - for they are Mine, declares the Lord! Yes, this Child, He belongs to the Lord - that is true enough - but more than just belonging to the Lord, Jesus was given, yes, as our Sermon Hymn put it:
Of the Father's Love Begotten, ere the worlds began to be.
He is alpha and omega, He the source the ending He,
Of the things that are that have been, and that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore. (LSB, 384, v. 1)
This command to consecrate the firsborn is the first command after giving the Passover is given - the first command. Yes, the Passover and the blessing of life to the firstborn is now fulfilled through The Firstborn of Mary and Joseph. Just as God used the gift of the firstborn to deliver Israel, His beloved, from the bondage of Egypt some 14 centuries earlier, now He uses the Firstborn, Jesus, to deliver the world through this Beloved Son. Mary gave Him up to the Lord, even as Hannah did with Samuel - this consecration by the mothers was to show that the life of their boy belonged to the Lord.
To this mighty gift we may add two older folks, Simeon (hearing) and Anna (favored or graced one) - Simeon came to the Temple, waiting for the Consolation of Israel. Now the Greek word for "consolation" literally means "to bring one close into oneself" the way a mother would hold her newborn close in to her heart. God's consolation for His beloved Church is to hold us close unto His heart. That means He must first extend that Heart, high upon the Cross where He would die for the sins of the world! Simeon tells Mary that the sword, the same sword that pierced Jesus - that is the Cross would pierce hers - especially hers, for above all others in this life, she literally and fully, held Him close unto her heart.
Old Man Simeon saw in the 40 day old infant the fulfillment of every prophecy of Holy Scripture - the salvation, the holding close again, returning close again to God's heart, the world who had wondered away from Eden's bliss and now knew only death. Dear old Anna, a widow for 63 years, was graced to behold Him who made those many years of waiting all worth while.
Beloved, we wait, and become impatient. Yet God remains faithful. Shortly Karl and Carolyn Stevens will come forward to celebrate the Consolation of the Lord - How He has held the "One of them" close to His heart for 69 years as man and wife. In their age, these two, like the two older ones waiting at the Temple teach us a wondrous lesson - God holds His beloved close. The world's wisdom says, Hold your friends close, and your enemies even closer. Well, in the sense of Romans 5:10, this is true for you and me -NKJ Romans 5:10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life! But I believe this consolation, this holding of us close to His heart is the gift that says, you are worth it all - all that the incarnation means - God taking your pain, your tears... yes, all your sin and the sin of all humanity... so that we could sit on His lap as His own. We see Him turning Christmas right side out - not that we get to hold Jesus, but that He gets to hold us! Rejoice with Karl and Carolyn, with Simeon and Anna, for not only do we behold the glory of God in this Child - He more than "beholds" us - yea - He holds us close - so close that heaven is ours, for He is come to forgive, to heal, to adopt, to breathe life into us - to hold you. A most blessed Christmas to you, my beloved and His beloved. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria