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Christmas Day

Text: John 1:1-14 (15-18)

Title: “The Christmas Light”

Date: Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Pastor Steve Bocklage

In these enlightened times too many people see and experience Christmas without Jesus. A young working wife tries to prepare a proper Christmas. She spends many hours cleaning and shopping, then on Christmas day, plays hostess for a family feast of 23 people. She is cooking before the crack of dawn and by sunset, she is exhausted. Her hopes were so high. But without Jesus, she sees Christmas from the dark.
         How about the husband who is sent out shopping with the official Christmas list, clutched like the Holy Grail in his hand. His wife has impressed upon him the importance of the list and warned him not to deviate from it. After making all the purchases, he senses that he has stuffed Christmas into his small sports utility vehicle. Without Jesus, he is seeing Christmas from the dark.
         Without Christ, advertisers say that the true meaning of Christmas is giving. Without Christ, counselors say the true meaning of Christmas is forgiving yourself and others. Without Christ, TV shows say the true meaning of Christmas is family getting together for the holidays. Without Christ, non-profit organizations see the true meaning of Christmas as feeding those who are less fortunate. The truth is…as good as these things are to do and the Lord wants you to do…without Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in your life…you will see Christmas from the dark.

         It is a simple fact that if you want to see your Savior in His Bethlehem bed, you need to be moved out of the darkness into the light. That is why you need the Christmas Light born in Bethlehem. As St. John writes in the Gospel reading: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him…. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:1-5) Come and see “the Word”…come and see Jesus Christ…your Savior and Lord. In order to see His coming, you need to journey back in time, more than 20 centuries. The time is during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the first of Rome's emperors. Calling for a census, he has sent the citizens of the countries under his control to be counted. This command of a Roman emperor brings Joseph…with his very pregnant wife Mary…to the little Judean town of Bethlehem. Before that first night is over, she delivers her Child and wraps Him in swaddling clothes. Then she places Him in the warmest and safest place she can find, which happens to be a feeding trough filled with hay for the animals. That’s because Joseph’s distant relatives in Bethlehem have no room in their guest rooms. The only room available to Joseph and Mary is the third room under one of the houses where the animals are kept overnight for safety. This room that we call a stable is where Mary gives birth…a simple stable filled with all the sights and smells that go along with such a place.

Unnoticed by the world in that simple stable, you can see your Savior. Come in for a

moment and see! You will have to step into the stable's darkness and stand by Mary to see God's light. Look into the manger and see the baby Jesus. See the Defeater of the devil. Look into the manger and see the Destroyer of death…the Savior from sin. This Baby is special. Go ahead and take a look! Look into the face of this Baby, and know that you are looking at the Light of the world! You are looking upon the face of the Son of God!
         Of course, you do not have to take my word that this Baby is special. Just ask the shepherds, who have come to see Jesus and pay their respects. They had to see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has told them about. “"Do not be afraid,” the angel said to them, “for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”” (Lk. 2:10-11) Then the angel gives directions on how to find the newborn Babe. But before the shepherds could leave, other angels…a great company or multitude of the heavenly host…join with this solo angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Lk. 2:14)
         With these words, the shepherds are moved from darkness into the Light. At the beginning of that night, these shepherds had been outcasts and the lowly and the poorest of workers. Now they have a Savior. Look at their faces! They are not rushing back to their flocks. They are going to tell others about what they have seen and heard. That is the reaction people have when they are moved from darkness into the Light of Christ. We cannot help ourselves. The Good News of great joy the angels talked about is not just for shepherds. It is for all people…yes even for you and me. That’s because, Jesus is everybody's Savior. (cf. Jn. 3:16)
         It has been almost 37 years now but the television images are still vivid in my mind. On January 13, 1982, Air Florida’s Flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport with ice and snow build-up on its wings. Shortly afterwards, the plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge over the frozen Potomac River, just two miles from the White House. One of the small-band of survivors was in the freezing water clinging to the plane’s tail section. Every time the rescue helicopter lowered a lifeline to him, this man passed it to another passenger. When the helicopter had rescued all the others and finally came back to get him…it was too late. He had gone under the icy waters. This man knew as he passed the lifeline to the others that he was giving up his chances for life. He sacrificed his life to a cold death in the river so that others could live.

         In a similar but greater way, God’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, does the heavenly Father's business of saving you and me. St. John tells us: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but so that the world through him might be saved.” (Jn 3:17) God's plan of salvation consists of Jesus being nailed to a cross, as the prophets foretold. Hanging in pain and suffering on that cross…suspended between heaven and earth…“the Word [who] became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14) dies for you and me…and for everyone. He dies as your Substitute. He dies to rebuild the bridge that sin has torn down between heaven and earth…between God and man. He pays the price on the cross so that you do not have to perish but can have life…life that is indestructible…life that never ends…life that is eternal.  

Yes, without Jesus in one’s life, Christmas is seen from the dark. But here is Good News: "I am the Light of the world,” declares Jesus in John 8, “he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." (Jn 8:12) Because Christ… “the Word”…suffers and loses His life on the cross, everyone who believes in “the true light, which enlightens everyone” (Jn. 1: 9) will be forgiven and saved. In His resurrection victory, “the Word [who] became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14) defeated death to become your King…your Lord…and your Redeemer…to become your Christmas Light…to give life to all who believe in Him. What a wonderful Christmas gift He is! Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas! Amen.

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