S-1353-CE/C 12/24/2012 Hymns: #102; LSB #364; #94; #97; #87; #647; #85;
Texts: Micah 5:2-4; Isaiah 9:6-7, 60:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:15-17; Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 2:1-20
Theme: “The Time Has Come!” (Luke 2:6)
Question: “Have you ever said, ‘It’s Time?’” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Merry Christmas to you! The text for the celebration of the birth of our Savior is from the Gospel lesson: “And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth” (Luke 2:6).
We have been talking a lot about time lately. I am sure that many of you were dealing with the time crunch on this very exciting and yet somewhat hectic day. I am sure that there was more than one exasperated parent who shouted, “It’s time to go to Church!” I am sure that some of our younger brothers and sisters in Christ are sitting there thinking about time too. “It’s time to open presents!” Pastors are not immune to this either. As a matter of fact, when I woke up on Saturday morning and realized that the Mayans were wrong, I said to myself, “It’s time to write a Christmas Eve sermon!”
It is time. The time of the season of Advent with its hopeful waiting and penitent watching has passed. The blue and pink of the Advent wreath is now overshadowed by the White. It’s time! Christmas Eve is here. Christ is born! Once again we as the Church of Christ celebrate the Author of Time breaking in to Time itself. The very Creator who counted the evening and the morning of the First Day now marks the TIME of His first breath on that First Christmas. That long and arduous trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem took time too. Mary didn’t ride in a Cadillac, BMW, or a crew cab. I am sure all that time on the road took its toll on the first time mommy-to-be. Time had seemed to almost stand still. Would Bethlehem ever appear in the horizon? But soon it was time. It was time for the travelers to see the sleepy village turned bustling metropolis thanks to Caesar’s taxation. Soon it would be time for them to find a place to stay. But not just any place. It would soon be time for them to find that place where their long-expected baby would make His entrance. But there was no place. No place could take them. No inn. No hotel. No hospital. And the time spent searching put them that much closer to THE TIME.
It was time. While there was no place, there would soon be no time. It was time for the Baby to come. It was time. And that precious Baby came. A stable would have to suffice. The King of Kings would be born into a world in a backwater town where His first throne room was a cattle stall and His first throne a feed box. No palace. No Throne. But it was time!
While the elements of the very familiar Christmas story sound like things were anything but planned, the timing was perfect. What we see on that night in Bethlehem is God’s perfect timing. The clock which had started so many centuries before in a fallen Garden, had finally reached the critical time. That long-promised Seed was born. God was delivered into time for the sole purpose of undoing the damage of sin and death that mankind had wrought. St. Paul told the Galatians But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
That first Christmas was at JUST THE RIGHT TIME! There was no accident. There was no coincidence. At the direction of God, in the location of the Father’s choosing, at the very moment in time of the Lord’s plan, salvation dawned on mankind! The hopes and fears of all the years were met together in that one moment in time when Jesus was born! At the birth of Jesus it was time for waiting to end. At the birth of Jesus anticipation found its fulfillment. At the birth of Jesus it was time to stop the wondering as to WHO was coming. At the birth of Jesus it was time to stop looking forward to what was to come. At the birth of Jesus it was time for the angels to sing and God’s people to rejoice.
It was also time for the shepherds too. Those lowly shepherds who were seen as the bottom of the societal ladder were found at just the right time too. First it was time for fear. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. The heavenly host that announced the timely birth of the Lord Jesus also took the time to point the way for them. They were told about mangers and swaddling clothes. The angels sang to them about God’s glory, peace on earth and about God’s good will toward man. With this, they knew it was time: time for great joy!
And what did they do? They made time! And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. With HASTE, they left the fields and the flocks. They sought out this blessed and greatest GIFT of all time. They busted it to Bethlehem and found it just as the angels had said. When they found this Child it was time for them to sing. They sang not with angelic melody, but with confession. They told what the angels said. In fact, they couldn’t STOP telling it. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. These very simple men of flock and field KNEW that this was a special time; for them and for the World!
Tonight it is time. It is time once again for us to trace the steps of the shepherds all the way to crowded Bethlehem. Tonight it is time for us to peer over the edge of the manger and behold in time the Timeless Son of God. We come at the invitation of God Himself. Through messengers, both heavenly and earthly, we have heard the Word about this Word made flesh. This One who came into time so many centuries ago is here for us again tonight. He is here in His Word. In this Word we are reminded yet again that the Time of our salvation is at hand. For this Baby did not stay a baby. No, the little lad grew in wisdom and stature before God and man. He would do all the things that any young man would do, except without sin.
But in time, He would do what no other man could do or even dream of doing. He would go from the wood of a manger to the wood of the cross. In time, the joy of Christmas will become the stark reality of Good Friday. The swaddled Babe will be stripped naked before the very world He came to save. This One, the One of whom Angels sing and whom Shepherds praise, will be scourged and stricken, spiked and speared, abused and afflicted for us. FOR YOU! At just the right time and just the right place, God works. He works at Bethlehem. He works at Calvary. And He works here tonight too. It is time for the Lord to work on you yet again. He is here to call you not to some mushy and jolly celebration. He doesn’t want to make you feel good as you sing the familiar hymns in the familiar surroundings that is Christmas at St. Redeemer. No, He wants to give you so much more. He wants to set your time in proper perspective. He wants to change your view of the world, of yourself and of Your Savior and the LOVE the Savior has for YOU.
He wants you to see that time in this world is fleeting. While the Mayans were wrong on timing, they were right on one thing; this world will end sooner than we can ever think. He doesn’t want time to catch you off guard. As a result, He wants you to see yourself as you are. You are sinners in need of the Savior that the Angels announced and the Shepherds saw. To think otherwise is to lie to yourself and seal your eternal fate! But this Jesus was born in Bethlehem and died on Calvary to be exactly what you need Him to be for you. He is YOUR Savior. You don’t have to go looking for Him at Macy’s, Yonkers, Sears, or Wal-Mart; instead, He comes to you. He came to you in Bethlehem so many centuries ago because of His love for You. He comes to you again tonight. And He keeps coming to you in this place each and every week. Here at this altar He gives you His flesh to eat and His blood to drink for the forgiveness of sins and the salvation of your souls!
It’s time. It’s time for Christmas. It is time for the celebration. It is time to sing with the Angels. It is time to confess with the Shepherds. It’s time to see God in the flesh. It’s time to behold the truth of your sin and the glory of the forgiveness of sin. It’s time to see that the Light has come into this darkened world. It’s time once again to receive and rejoice in the greatest GIFT of all time…Jesus! Whose love is revealed in coming to us today and always. And the greatest light ever that pierced our hearts—is love—love of the Father in sending His Son. A blessed Christmas to you! AMEN.
Now the peace…
SOLI DOE GLORIA