Because there is no assigned daily lectionary reading for Christmas Eve, I have chosen to include the Old Testament reading for Christmas Day as our text for today. It is worth hearing, as we journey this evening to Bethlehem, a town little regarded or noticed among the clans of Judah, yet the birthplace of the Savior.
Isn’t that the way it is in our world and our lives? God takes lowly Mary and blesses her with a Son. The prophets foretold that Bethlehem would be the place where a ruler would come forth for Judah. God lifts up the downhearted and casts down the mighty from their thrones. In Acts, we hear that God turns the world upside down! And that’s good news, indeed!
As we prepare for our annual celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, this may be the most important thing to remember—that our God brings new life, new hope and new promise! Into the midst of a dark world, God sent His Son to be the Prince of Peace, King of kings and Lord of lords—a light to the Gentiles and the glory of His people, Israel. And don’t we need such a Light today?
In some ways, it would be easy to resign ourselves to a less than joyful Christmas, given the tension, difficulty, terrorism and conflict in our world today. There are times when all appears dark and without hope. But it is for just such times as these when we need Christmas—when we need to be reminded of the Gospel—the good news that to us—to you and to me, and to our world, is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And this Jesus is the Light of the world, come to bring light to every dark corner, home, heart and life! Jesus Christ is the hope of the world—the hope for which we yearn every day! Tonight, this promise of hope, peace and light will be fulfilled in our hearing—as once again we hear the Christmas message proclaimed and we sing, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth!”
Heavenly Father, as once you caused your Son to be born in Bethlehem, by your Holy Spirit, cause Him to born anew in me! Amen.
Prepared by David Wendel, North American Lutheran Church