“With Thankfulness in Our Hearts”

The First Sunday after Christmas (C)
“With Thankfulness in Our Hearts”
December 16, 2018

Sermon Text: Colossians 3:16-17, Luke 2:22-40

Today’s Gospel lesson declares, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)  So far, our text.

Peace be unto you from the Savior of the World, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

And this my friends, in light of the great love and mercy God our Father has shown toward us in sending His only begotten Son, our Savior… Jesus… into the world.

In fact, we just celebrated Christ’s holy nativity. We did so on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and in reality, it never ends… our celebration, that is… and our thankfulness… they know no end.

Not when the reality of Christ’s incarnation comes to full light in us all. Not when we consider and by Spirit, comprehend more and more what it all meant… what our Lord Jesus did in the flesh as very God of very God… begotten, not made… being of one substance with the Father by Whom all things were made. And also True Man, born of the Virgin Mary.

Our celebration and thankfulness know no end when we survey… each and every time we survey… the wondrous cross. We simply cannot help but give thanks as “God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved” as the Apostle Paul reminds us.

To think, God chose you… God chose me… before the worlds began… before time… to be His own in time… for the brief time any of us is here on earth… but also in eternity… in heaven forever and ever. And all of this, made possible by Christ coming to earth.

We are chosen and made holy by the precious blood of Jesus… made holy in our Baptism. There at the font… washed of all our sins, claimed and named by the Lord of the universe… the great I AM.

In light of all of this, look what Holy Scripture calls us to do. We read, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-13)

My friends, whatever 2018 was or was not for you in regard to these things… in regard to the compassion you showed, kindness, humility, meekness and patience… in regard to bearing with one another and forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven you… take full advantage of the new start that is here for you… and this, with thankfulness in your hearts.

Yes, of course, this refers to the new year that is about to be ushered in… but it also refers to right now… right here… having been absolved of all of your sins, shortcomings and transgressions… let this now be a new start, a new beginning for you and me under the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit and by His power and might.

It is true. We have no idea what the next minute will hold for anyone, let alone the next year, but we do know of the things that are planned to take place, God willing, in the months ahead. You know this to a greater or lesser degree in your own life… in your family’s life and yes, in regard to the life of this congregation in the year of our Lord – 2019.

Not that it would be any different if we didn’t have these things on the horizon, but certainly because they are there… may this new year be for you… be for me… one filled with… and known for… our compassion, our kindness, our humility, our meekness and patience… our bearing with one another and forgiving one another as we are forgiven in the Lord.

And then, look what St. Paul’s says, “Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)

We could use more love… for each of us… everyone of us… to show more love… and this, to our family… our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith… and to all others… including our enemies and others we find hard to love.

To let love rule and reign. To have all of our thoughts… our actions… everything we do and say tempered with love… overflowing in love.

And this, for us, is possible as we keep in crystal clear focus the manger… the cross and the empty tomb. Never forget that the love that we show is reflected love… the love first shown to us passed on to others.

Indeed, it is what Christ has done for us, won for us that makes the Christian life possible. Having been sanctified by His blood, we can lead the sanctified life… a holy life… a pure life… a thankful life.

And here, our Gospel lesson holds up two wonderful examples of this in the persons of Simeon and Anna. May the great thankfulness in their hearts be in ours as well… as to what has come to us… as to Who has come to us and dwells with us… dwells richly in us. It is Christ our Lord.

All is well in Him… in Jesus. Everything… without exception… everything… regardless of what we face now or in the future… regardless of what 2019 holds. The Lord is with us… will be with us through it all. And for this, there is indeed, thankfulness in our hearts. Amen.

May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“With Thankfulness in Our Hearts”  12/30/18  The Rev. Mark H Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL.