Tuesday, October 1, 2013

“A Great Gift” (Luke 1:31-33)

This sermon was preached at the chapel of Concordia College in Seward, NE. Since the students don’t remain on campus during the Christmas Season, they were observing Christmas in the fall. Thus the text is dealing with the Christmas reading.

S-138419SAP/C 9/30/2013 Hymns: (O) #; (S) #356; (C) #

Texts: Luke 1:26-38

Theme: “A Great Gift” (Luke 1:31-33)

Question: “What is the nicest gift you have gotten?” Seward, NE

Faithful followers of the Savior, Merry Christmas to each of you! Christ The text is from the St. Luke’s Gospel: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is a great honor and privilege to be among you on this Christmas in the summer celebration. I bring you greeting and God’s richest blessing from the President of our Beloved Synod, the Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison with whom I am delighted to serve this great church body and from the saints of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Armour, SD.

It is not often that we think of buying gifts unless there is a birthday, anniversary, baby shower or upcoming wedding. The time when we begin to think of gifts is around Christmas. During that time we get stressed out looking for the perfect gift for someone you love and care for deeply. The more you love the person, the more precious gifts you want to give.

In May of 1994 when I graduated from the St. Louis Seminary, my parents came to the States to visit from Israel and help me celebrate becoming a footwasher in the service of the Lord, Jesus Christ. The term “footwasher” is my favorite word of being a pastor. As such, I get to show the love of Jesus as I wash the saints’ feet and care for all of their needs. My parents were also present at my ordination into the Office of the Holy Ministry a month later (June 26). After the Ordination my mother and father came to me and said: “Son, we are so proud of you and pray God’s blessings on your life and ministry” and placed this (show bracelet) beautiful gold bracelet on my wrist.

I wore that gift with pride. It was a priceless gift from my parents, and I’m certain they paid dearly for it. I never took my bracelet off except when I went into the Dead Sea. Shortly after I arrived into Armour to begin serving Redeemer Lutheran Church as their footwasher, I lost my bracelet. I searched for it but couldn’t find it. I wept. I put ads all over town and church. A few days later one of my parishioners called saying, “Pastor, I found your bracelet in the church basement.” I was elated and overjoyed to have the bracelet again.

Recently my bracelet broke and now is sitting on top of my drawer waiting for my next trip to the old country to have it fixed. PAUSE.

You may have received a great gift that means a lot to you. You cherish it and hold it dear. You keep it near your heart and protect it lest it be destroyed, lost or stolen.

In this country, during the Christmas season we hear about buying that perfect gift for the person who has everything. But what about the perfect gift for someone who has nothing and needs everything? That’s what God gave you and me at Christmas. This is what Luke states in the text for today: And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (1:31).

Learn this truth and appreciate this great gift: When God put His Son into the manger, He gave us everything. You and I needed forgiveness. He gave us His Son—the heaven-sent Savior to wash away our sins with His precious blood. We needed peace with God. He gave us the Prince of Peace, who brought back a blessed relationship with the Father. We needed power against sin. He gave us the mighty Lord, who defeated Satan in the wilderness and even more so on the cross. Satan can’t hold us captive any more, since Christ—our GREAT gift is the key that freed us. We needed comfort in life’s sorrows. He gave us the living Savior, who wipes away our tears. We needed assurance at the time of death. He gave us the risen Christ, who has already conquered death, not just for Himself but for all of us sinners. We had nothing, but with this GREAT gift—OUR Savior, God gave us everything we needed. Thanks be to God for such a GREAT gift! PAUSE.

Beloved in the Lord, my bracelet is a great gift from my parents. Now that they are no longer living on earth, but in heaven, it has even a greater meaning. I love it and cherish it though I can’t wear it any longer for a little while. This is what happens with earthly gifts. They break, they rust, they are stolen or become obsolete. But not the gift of the manger!

In love, the gift I received from my parents broke and it broke my heart. So too, Christ the Greatest gift given to man was broken on Calvary’s cross for us sinners. However, unlike my broken bracelet, Christ broke out of the tomb on the third day to give us life and salvation. By this mighty act of His resurrection, He guarantees that this gift will never be broken again, never rust, never stolen or become obsolete. This is the gift that keeps on giving for always. This is the Great gift that every sinner needs—A Savior.

Why does God lavish such a gift on us? How do we explain the love that moved God to send His Son into the manger? What language shall we borrow to praise Him for such a gift to us, His enemies? In His great love, God gave everything He had so that we might have every­thing we need. Thanks be to God for His great gift of love in a child, so that we might all become children of God forever.

Precious children of the heavenly Father, our lives are God’s gift. Eternal life is His great gift. May we therefore, by the grace of God go out into the world and share this gift with others so that they, too, may join us in praising God and saying: “We have received a GREAT GIFT IN JESUS, OUR LORD!

May you cherish such a great gift! May hold Him dear and near! May you spend time daily with this heavenly GIFT, until you are welcomed into the Eternal presence of this GIFT forever! Amen and Amen.

Now the peace…


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