The Nativity of Our Lord
“Unto Us a Child is Born”
December 24, 2016
Peace be yours now and always from the One who is God incarnate, our Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dearly Beloved of the Lord,
“For unto us a Child is born.” (Isaiah 9:6)
So said the prophet Isaiah. And most people unfortunately could care less. After all, it is estimated that 273 babies are born every minute in this world of ours.
That is a lot of newborns. So what is so special about one of them? What is so special about the Child Isaiah foretold would be born in the fullness of time?
We could not even begin to count all of the ways, but we should nevertheless try. We should nevertheless consider them. Consider Him… this Child… actually all of the time, each and every day, including today… on the very eve of His birth.
I know a lot is swimming around in your heads right now. Your minds may be going a mile a minute. The joy of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is that there is much happening in our lives.
But also the downside to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is that there is much happening in our lives. Too much, where this divine service and the divine message proclaimed and celebrated this holy and divine night is too often lost in the blur of it all… lost… mixed in with the worldly… that which is oh-so fleeting and, in the long run, is of little meaning or import.
The birth of our Lord. Regardless, of how much or how little we take this all in, marvel at it and really consider the full impact of the same… it happened. It is real.
“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” (Isaiah 9:6)
“So what is this ‘for us’ stuff all about. I didn’t ask for this child,” the world says. That’s true. But the faithful certainly have. Down throughout time, ever since the Lord God promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that the Messiah would be born… the faithful have asked for, prayed for, pleaded for, longed for the Child… this Child, to come. The One who would come and save the world… all of mankind… from their sins. The One who would vanquish Satan and abolish death once and for all.
To us a Child is born regardless of whether He is acknowledged or disavowed… accepted or rejected… embraced or repulsed… worshiped or hated. It is a done deal. It is a fact. It is real, sure and certain.
The Child, that is… being born, that is… to us, that is.
The same is true of the Son that is given. It is fact. It is real, sure and certain. And what literally takes our breath away is the realization of Whose Son we are talking about here and Who did the giving!
It is God’s very own Son… His only Son. God our Father gave His Son to us in this, one of the greatest acts of love.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) What an amazing thing. The greatest of all gifts that we will ever receive… ever be given.
And to think, God the Father gave His Son knowing full well He was giving Him unto death… giving Him as a sacrifice… as our substitute… as the only one who could champion our cause… the only one who could free us from sin, death and the devil and that it would take His death… Jesus’ death, to do it… His holy body and precious blood offered up in full payment for our iniquity… for our sinful and selfish deeds… our wicked, unloving and uncaring actions… and that of the whole world.
Unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given; and what? “The government shall be upon His shoulder.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Here, too, the world has no idea what this means and even some Christian denominations and individuals wrongly think that it refers to some form of earthly government that Christ will set up.
Actually the Hebrew word used here (מִשְׂרָה, misrah) refers to having rule or dominion over.
The Christmas hymn we just sang a few minutes ago, “Joy to the World” gets it exactly right where in the fourth stanza it says “He rules the world with truth and grace.”
It wasn’t that He would at some time rule world… grow up to rule the world… aspire to rule the world and actually the entire universe… all things in heaven, on earth and under the earth. No… not at all.
He… Jesus Christ… as Lord of lords and King of kings, very God of very God, was ruling and reigning over all things in the manger! Ruling over all things now… in the flesh. Now… here with us… here, one of us.
Yes, this Child, so meek and mild… in one sense, so helpless… and in another… not at all.
He who as a child was powerless and completely dependent… and yet, not at all.
He who as a child had the mind of a child and yet… also… the omniscient mind of God… the wisdom of God.
He who was newly born… and yet, has always been… the One who is the “Ancient of Days.”
A lot to take in my friends, I know. To take into our hearts and minds by no means fully understanding, but nevertheless fully accepting, fully believing… and fully rejoicing… giving thanks and praise now… this hour… and every hour of our life.
For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. And because of which, we are at peace this night and every night. Indeed as the Christ Child could sleep in heavenly peace, there in a cold and smelly cattle stall… so can we in a cold world that reeks of sin.
For we belong to the One who is the Prince of Peace… the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father.
We could spend a life time considering all of this… the height, depth and breadth of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Pondering the Child that to us is born.
Regardless of whether or not we have really been doing this… worshiping, considering and pondering in the past, we have the joy of doing it now and in all of the days which the Lord sees fit to give us in the future.
A blessed Christmas Eve to you all. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in the Christ Child, unto life everlasting. Amen.
“To Us a Child is Born”
12/24/16 The Rev. Mark H. Hein
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL