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Epiphany 2019

Epiphany 2019

Isaiah 60:1-6

January 6, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

A little more than 700 years before Jesus was born, when the great prophet Isaiah wrote, conditions among God’s people were sad and depressing. King Ahaz, the perfect example of an evil king, was on the throne of Judah.  Isaiah laments that so many of God’s people had rebelled against God, they had become a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly, who had forsaken the Lord (Is 1:4).

Conditions in the world weren’t any better. Darkness covered the earth. Outside of Israel, all the inhabitants of the earth, which maybe some exceptions, were not believers in God. Nations and Empires swept over and around and through Judah in a bloody and savage struggle for world domination, but little paid heed to the dim light shining from the faithful remnant in Judah.

Isaiah’s lament was not only for Him, but he looks forward to the time when the Messiah was to appear. That too would be a time without light, in which darkness and blindness covered the people of the world.  When Christ came, there was righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth, an infant John the Baptist, God fearing Joseph and the young virgin Mary. A few shepherds visited the newly born savior. Godly Simeon and the prophetess Anna recognize that He was the long promised and expected Messiah.  A few magi came to seek the King of the Jews.  Another evil king did an evil thing and slaughtered the infants on Bethlehem in an attempt to eliminate apparent competition. But aside from these, no one seems to notice, or really care. In Bethlehem, there is cool indifference. Judea and Galilee don’t seem to recognize the light in their midst. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him (John 1:11, 10). Isaiah’s words certainly apply, “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples.”

These words are also true for our own time. The Light has shown for 2000 years, the Gospel has gone out into all the world. And yet there are so many who walk in darkness of unbelief and misbelief. In Nampa alone, recent survey from the Pew Forum indicate less than 50% consider themselves Christians, and only about 35% attend church on a regular basis. When we look at Christianity it seems divided into almost countless denominations. False prophets exist within the church, knowingly or ignorantly, leading people around as blind leading the blind.

What are we to do? Isaiah’s words rouse us out of the dark night of sin and captivity, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Christ has come, and He is the glory of the Lord.  The coming of the Light is likely to disturb us. It is well that is does. The light scatters the darkness where we hide from the world, from our families, from our spouse, even from ourselves. But we can’t hide from God. This causes terror and comfort. King David once wrote, “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Of where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there” (Psalm 139:7-8). We are exposed, naked, baring all before the Lord.  That is what it means to have the Light of Christ shine upon us. Sin must first be exposed in order to be confessed and forgiven.

What brings you here today? What sin lies in your heart, in your memory, in the darkness? What brings you to the Lord’s Supper this week, where the forgiveness of that sin is offered?  People beloved of God, why are you here?

The words of the prophet answer this for us,Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.”  Through the preaching of Christ, of the Gospel, people are brought by God to the Light of the World. We confess in the 3rd article of the Creed that the Holy Spirit has called, gathered, and enlightened us by the Gospel. As prophesied by Isaiah, the Magi were led by the light of the star to the infant Jesus.  Here were pagan philosophers and astronomers, those the least likely to come and visit the newborn king of the Jews, showed a surprising wisdom. They kneeled down and worshipping Jesus, foreshadowing the mission to the Gentiles and the power of the Gospel, and teaching a very important truth of our faith. As you cannot know the one true God apart from Christ in His Gospel, neither can you worship God apart from Christ in His Gospel (Rev. Rick Stuckwisch).  The glory of the Lord has risen, risen from the dead, so that the light of Christ might cause you to arise from the dead. The road to blessed communion with the Lord is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6).

The Church has long heeded this call of the Prophet, though imperfectly at times. From Israel, the light of salvation through the preaching of the Gospel went out to the world.  The apostles went out to the world with the news of Christ’s death and resurrection for the world. The Holy Spirit used them, and faithful people throughout time to speak this Word of God to the world. And so it is in our time as well.  It isn’t just happening overseas, or somewhere else. It happens here and now. The Gospel shines light into the darkness of our world, into the darkness of our lives, and leads people to Christ. To bow down and worship. To rise up and live.

Your light has come. You have been called out of the darkness of this sinful world to live as children of the light. Christ Himself says of His people, “you are the light of the world.” So arise and shine, for the light of the Gospel; Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. Amen.

Christmas Day 2018

Christmas Day 2018

John 1:1-18

The Child Who is the Word

December 25, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

St. John proclaims loud and clear for the world to hear that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  We can hardly grasp the great significance of this. The Word that was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God, became man. In doing so, Jesus pitched His tent, He tabernacle among us, He made His dwelling place in this fallen creation as a man. The greatest honor that we can knowing that God Himself became man. It is not that we can turn to God but that God has turned to us. Jesus became flesh in His incarnation. Jesus shares in our humanity.

In this feast of the Nativity of our Lord, the Epiphany, Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost have their beginning and their purpose. For if Christ hadn’t been born according to the flesh, he wouldn’t have lived the life of a human, though without sin. He wouldn’t have been crucified and raised, which is Easter. He wouldn’t have sent the Spirit, which is Pentecost.

What He once put on, He will never take off.  From the moment of His incarnation He was not only the eternal Word of God, but He is also your brother, flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. Even now, exalted at the right hand of the Father, He bears the resurrected body He took for Himself in Mary’s womb still marked with the scars of His crucifixion.  This is the great mystery, and the great joy, of Christmas.

The Epistle for this morning calls Jesus the Son. In the Gospel, He is the Word. God speaks to us by the Son, who is the Word made flesh. We have seen His glory, glory as of the Son from the Father. That is why we are here, because the Lord of Creation, the only begotten Son of God, God of God, light of light, very God of very God comes. We can’t travel back 2000 years to kneel with the shepherds in awe. We can’t hold the child in our arms as Mary and Joseph did. We can’t go to our Lord, but as He came, so He still comes, and He will come again.

Luther once recounted a medieval legend in his Christmas sermon in 1534, “The story is told in the papacy that at one time the devil came to Mass in a church. And when in the Patrem – the Nicene Creed – the words were sung “Et homo factus est – and He was made man – and the people did not kneel but stood, the devil slapped one of them on the mouth so that he saw stars, cursed him terribly and said, “You gross knave! You cursed fool! Are you not ashamed to stand here like a stick and not to fall on your knees for joy? If God’s Son had become our Brother as He has become yours, our joy would be so great that we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.”

“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Today that salvation is again extended to you as a gift from this Child’s altar. It’s Christmas, the Mass of Christ, that is to say, the Service of Holy Communion wherein the Lord comes to us and we humble receive His gifts with praise and thanksgiving. Here, today, in just a short while, Jesus is giving you the best gift—His very body and blood. A gift that forgives your sins, renews your zeal for good works, and enlivens your love. The body that He took from the Virgin He gave for all on the cross and He gives to us in the Sacrament today. The blood He shed He gives to us with the wine.  He has put all His grace in this Sacrament so that sinners may know where the Lord comes to meet them. And as we meet Him, we kneel before our Lord, not just to receive, but to proclaim that this is Christ, the King, who comes to us.

Our very presence at the Lord’s Table is a declaration on our part that we believe in this. As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. By our eating and drinking, we bear witness to our families and friends, our neighbors and community that Christ became man and gave Himself for me, that He might redeem me from all evil, from death, from my sin. I renounce the devil and all His works and all His ways. I reject the worldly passions, though I still struggle with them daily in my sinful flesh. I look to Christ incarnate for forgiveness, life, and salvation. And that I await my blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of my God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Blessed are you who receive this Holy Sacrament, the real presence of the Word made flesh given to you in, with, and under the bread and wine and so declare your faith in the grace of God that has appeared to all men. Come, as pardoned and redeemed sinners, and by faith kneel and lay a hold of Christ for you. Behold His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, given and shed for you. The darkness of sin has not overcome Christ, and it shall not overcome you who are in Christ.[1]


[1] Some of this sermon is adapted from Lindemann, The Sermon and Its Propers, Vol 1, pp. 74-75.

Advent 4 2018 Rorate Coeli

Advent 4 2018

What Child is This?

Sunday School Christmas Program

December 23, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

This time of year, our attention is laser-focused toward Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We look forward to that joyous night of celebration of Christmas.  In our minds we travel back to O Little Town of Bethlehem where Gentle Mary Laid Her Child, tucked Away in a Manger, truly A Great and Mighty Wonder to behold. Once, in Royal David’s City, Of the Father’s Love BegottenIt Came Upon A Midnight Clear as Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. Candles are lit, the lights are turned down and with one voice we remember the Silent Night. As the final “Amen” echoes through the church, there is a sense that – if only for a moment – there truly is peace on earth and goodwill toward men.

Helpless romantics that we are, we view the characters in the Nativity drama through the Biblical lens. First, our attention is naturally drawn to Mary and Joseph. After all they’ve been through, and all that this child means for them and the whole world. Mary delivered the Bread of Life in the town called House of Bread, Bethlehem. Joseph as step-father to God’s own Son, yet – we speculate – burdened with the shame he might have felt as people whispered about his wife “hooking up” with someone before they were properly married. There’s the shepherds and the angelic choir singing gloria in excelsis deo. Often times we think of the wise men, the magi, but they probably didn’t arrive for quite some time yet. And there’s the bad guys too, the one who has to tell Joseph and Mary there is no room at the inn, and evil Herod who murdered infants and children trying to kill Jesus. And then there’s Jesus Himself, a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. He is what the whole drama is about.[1]

Yet, I contend that we often get it all wrong. We often treat all these people and events as part of the Christmas story, and we even do so about Jesus.   It’s hard to avoid this, honestly.  We are surrounded this time of the year with shopping, Christmas parties, church activities, Christmas plays, family, school break, vacations, and the list goes on and on. It is all too easy to think of Jesus as simply one more part of the big story we call Christmas. But Jesus isn’t part of the story of Christmas. Christmas is part of the story of Jesus. When Christians celebrate Christmas, what we are celebrating is the Great Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. It is not the beginning of the incarnation, but a continuation of the story of God become man. The previous feast in this story happened nine months ago on March 25, which by the way, is a main reason we celebrate Christmas on December 25. That was the feast of the Annunciation, when it was announced to Mary that she would bear the Christ, the moment when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. At that moment, the Son of God became man. And He began to grow within His mother’s womb, taking His very flesh from her, taking His humanity from her.

Our Christmas celebration is focused on the moment when the God-man Jesus, Who has been growing for nine months already as man, is now revealed to the world through His birth. What was hidden in the womb of the virgin is now openly presented. Angels sing the announcement. Shepherds tell of this moment. His mother treasures up all these things in her heart.

At His incarnation He becomes part of a human family, part of our human family, our human race. And He is also part of the family of the people of Israel. And because of this identity, He is named and circumcised as all Jewish boys were. That’s another part of this story and another feast, celebrated January 1. The magi come and visit, that is celebrating on Jan 6. And He is brought to the Temple in Jerusalem by His mother and Joseph, presented as all the Jewish firstborn were. And that’s another part of the story and another feast, celebrated February 2.

He grows, He is baptized. That’s another feast, celebrated on January 13 this year. He teaches and heals. He is transfigured in glory, which we celebrate just before Lent. He is crucified, dies and is buried, which we celebrate during Holy Week. He rises on the third day and ascends into Heaven. And He sends to us the Holy Spirit to fill the Church with power from on high, which we celebrate on Pentecost.

This is the story of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Mary, and the Savior of the world.  Our God and Savior is born into human history, a history that is centered around Him, His incarnation, His life, His death, and His resurrection.

Whenever we come to church, when we are brought here by the prompting of God’s Spirit, gathered around the Word of God and the Sacraments, we are joined into the story of Christ. We become part of His story. His birth enables our birth again. His life is ours by virtue of our baptism into Him. His death atones for our sin. Our Sunday School children didn’t just recount part of Jesus’ story, it is now theirs, just as it is all of ours by faith.


[1] Modified from a sermon by Jonathan Meyer https://crossesandwoodshavings.blogspot.com/2017/12/shepherds-following-shepherds-luke-21-20

Christmas Eve 2018

Christmas Eve 2018

Luke 2:1-14

The Child Who is the Lord

December 24, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

When a child is born, there are questions we typically ask. Parents ask, “Is he healthy?” “How much does he weigh?” Grandparents ask, “What did you name her?” “Who does she look like?” Nurses and doctors closely examine the child and want to know, “Is he alert?” “Are her lungs clear?” We expect these kinds of questions.

But there are other questions we never expect to hear at the birth of a healthy child. Who would ever ask, “Who will handle his funeral arrangements someday?” Or, “What cemetery do you think she’ll be buried in?” Or, “What will cause his death?” “For everything there is a season,” the Scriptures say. And the season for asking about a person’s death is usually not at his or her birth.

One of our hymns asks a similarly unusual question about a child born in Bethlehem: What Child Is This? However, it is a fitting question because this Child is born in a most unusual way. His mother is a virgin. His birth is announced by heavenly hosts praising God. So, What Child Is This? The wonderful answer is proclaimed by an angel: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” This Child is no less than the Lord Himself, the Lord of heaven and earth. The same Lord who walked in the Garden of Eden calling to Adam and Eve, now lays in a manger. The same Lord who blessed Abraham, now is the blessing the world has been waiting for.  

That certainly is good news. But what makes God’s appearance in human flesh good news of great joy is that He came in order to redeem us. The Lord of creation became part of His creation in order to recreate what man had broken. The Immortal One was born in a specific time and place to unite Himself forever with His mortal creatures.

What if the Lord had taken on flesh in order to confront mankind and demand payback for the sins committed against Him? What if He had appeared among us with a human face in order to scowl at us for our selfishness? Thanks be to God that His incarnation is instead “good news of great joy” for us, as the herald angel declared.

The reason why it is good news of great joy is that at this Child’s birth we do ask the normally unthinkable question, “How will this Child die?” For this Child was born to die. This was God’s plan even before the Child was born. This is what the heavenly angels are talking about when they say His birth will bring peace on earth. This Child will die because of us, and He will die for us.

The prophet Isaiah said, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” The angel said, “Unto you is born this day... a Savior.” Unto us, whose worldly passions conceive and give birth to worldly thoughts and ungodly living. Unto us, whose sinful hearts give birth to cruel and hurtful words, even against those who love us most. Unto us, whose sinful natures drive us to live as though God does not matter and we matter most. Unto us—sinners—this Child is born.

So repent, and rejoice greatly for this holy night! But don’t forget to rejoice also for His holy death. For already at His birth, His cross, death, and burial are foreshadowed.

What Child Is This? The One who had a Mary at His birth and multiple Marys present at His death. What Child Is This? The One who had a righteous Joseph at His birth and a righteous Joseph, Joseph of Arimathea, at His death. What Child Is This? The One who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger at His birth and was wrapped in a shroud and laid in a tomb at His death. What Child Is This? The One whose birth was honored by magi bearing myrrh and whose death was honored by faithful women bearing myrrh to His tomb. What Child Is This? This Child is the great light that has shown on us who dwell in a land of deep darkness, on us who walk in darkness. What Child Is This? This is a real human child who has a real human body. His body suffered, was pierced for our transgression, bled, and died. But on the third day, His real human body came back to life again, the firstfruits of the resurrection of our human bodies too.  So let’s do something that is normal at the birth of a child: let’s look at this child, closely, carefully, and consider who He is.

The prophet Isaiah said all authority would be upon those little shoulders. This Child used His authority to free you from hell and destruction.  He has the lips of the Wonderful Counselor. He comforts your troubled conscience with the most wonderful counsel you could ever hear: “I forgive you all your sins.” He has the hands of the Mighty God. He set aside that might to have His hands nailed to a cross and extend mercy to you through His Holy Meal. He has the arms of the Everlasting Father, arms that spread out on a cross to draw you to Himself, to wrap His arms around you in Holy Baptism, and to welcome you home as prodigal sons and daughters. He has the royal head of the Prince of Peace. But His head was crowned with thorns in order to place on your heads crowns of glory.

What Child Is This? This is the Lord who has saved you. So, “Haste, haste to bring Him laud,” “Hail, hail the Word made flesh,” “Joy, joy, for Christ is born, The babe, the son of Mary.” Born for you. Blessed Christmas. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Christmas 2018

Christmas Day 2018

John 1:1-18

The Child Who is the Word

December 25, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

St. John proclaims loud and clear for the world to hear that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  We can hardly grasp the great significance of this. The Word that was in the beginning, that was with God, that was God, became man. In doing so, Jesus pitched His tent, He tabernacle among us, He made His dwelling place in this fallen creation as a man. The greatest honor that we can knowing that God Himself became man. It is not that we can turn to God but that God has turned to us. Jesus became flesh in His incarnation. Jesus shares in our humanity.

In this feast of the Nativity of our Lord, the Epiphany, Easter, the Ascension and Pentecost have their beginning and their purpose. For if Christ hadn’t been born according to the flesh, he wouldn’t have lived the life of a human, though without sin. He wouldn’t have been crucified and raised, which is Easter. He wouldn’t have sent the Spirit, which is Pentecost.

What He once put on, He will never take off.  From the moment of His incarnation He was not only the eternal Word of God, but He is also your brother, flesh of your flesh and bone of your bone. Even now, exalted at the right hand of the Father, He bears the resurrected body He took for Himself in Mary’s womb still marked with the scars of His crucifixion.  This is the great mystery, and the great joy, of Christmas.

The Epistle for this morning calls Jesus the Son. In the Gospel, He is the Word. God speaks to us by the Son, who is the Word made flesh. We have seen His glory, glory as of the Son from the Father. That is why we are here, because the Lord of Creation, the only begotten Son of God, God of God, light of light, very God of very God comes. We can’t travel back 2000 years to kneel with the shepherds in awe. We can’t hold the child in our arms as Mary and Joseph did. We can’t go to our Lord, but as He came, so He still comes, and He will come again.

Luther once recounted a medieval legend in his Christmas sermon in 1534, “The story is told in the papacy that at one time the devil came to Mass in a church. And when in the Patrem – the Nicene Creed – the words were sung “Et homo factus est – and He was made man – and the people did not kneel but stood, the devil slapped one of them on the mouth so that he saw stars, cursed him terribly and said, “You gross knave! You cursed fool! Are you not ashamed to stand here like a stick and not to fall on your knees for joy? If God’s Son had become our Brother as He has become yours, our joy would be so great that we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.”

“The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” Today that salvation is again extended to you as a gift from this Child’s altar. It’s Christmas, the Mass of Christ, that is to say, the Service of Holy Communion wherein the Lord comes to us and we humble receive His gifts with praise and thanksgiving. Here, today, in just a short while, Jesus is giving you the best gift—His very body and blood. A gift that forgives your sins, renews your zeal for good works, and enlivens your love. The body that He took from the Virgin He gave for all on the cross and He gives to us in the Sacrament today. The blood He shed He gives to us with the wine.  He has put all His grace in this Sacrament so that sinners may know where the Lord comes to meet them. And as we meet Him, we kneel before our Lord, not just to receive, but to proclaim that this is Christ, the King, who comes to us.

Our very presence at the Lord’s Table is a declaration on our part that we believe in this. As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. By our eating and drinking, we bear witness to our families and friends, our neighbors and community that Christ became man and gave Himself for me, that He might redeem me from all evil, from death, from my sin. I renounce the devil and all His works and all His ways. I reject the worldly passions, though I still struggle with them daily in my sinful flesh. I look to Christ incarnate for forgiveness, life, and salvation. And that I await my blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of my God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Blessed are you who receive this Holy Sacrament, the real presence of the Word made flesh given to you in, with, and under the bread and wine and so declare your faith in the grace of God that has appeared to all men. Come, as pardoned and redeemed sinners, and by faith kneel and lay a hold of Christ for you. Behold His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, given and shed for you. The darkness of sin has not overcome Christ, and it shall not overcome you who are in Christ.[1]


[1] Some of this sermon is adapted from Lindemann, The Sermon and Its Propers, Vol 1, pp. 74-75.

Midweek Advent 3 2018

Midweek Advent 3

The Child Who Is John’s Joy

2 Samuel 6:12–23; Luke 1:39–45

December 19, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

Modified from material provided by CPH “What Child is This?”

Advent 3 2018 Gaudete - Matthew 11:2-11

Advent 3 2018

Matthew 11:2-11

December 16, 2018

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near! That’s the message of John the Baptist, which landed him in jail.  He called for Herod to repent over his illicit affair with his sister in law and Herod didn’t take it very well.  John the Baptist gets in trouble, can you imagine, for speaking to the truth about marriage. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. And if you're a friend of Christ, you may very well lose your head.

That's the lesson from John the Baptist. John intrudes upon us this Advent Season, willing to lose his head that we might get our heads on straight, that we might know Christ as the head, our source, and only source of life.  While in prison, John sends some of his disciples to Jesus asking him if He is the one they have been waiting for. Jesus answers John’s question with a strong “Yes, I am the One.” The deeds that Jesus has been performing are the long-expected signs of the Messiah, of the restoration of God’s people, of the keeping of God’s promises. God is at work, the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers and cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

John is a fiery prophet of the Lord, and he knows it. But he was taken aback by what he has been hearing about Jesus while in prison for speaking the truth. Just as John was astonished when Jesus came to him at the Jordan to be baptized by him, now he is astonished that he has heard all these things about Jesus’ deeds, he has preaching the message of the coming Messiah, but it doesn’t seem to match what he is experiencing as he sits in prison. He is one of the poor, needing that good news preached to him.

How often is this the experience of those who follow Christ? How many times in your life have you looked around at your situation and wondering how you ended up there? You know Christ, you have heard what He has done upon the cross. Your sins have been forgiven. Yet, still you struggle. You struggle with the same temptations, the same doubts, the same fears.  And more, you know that you have victory in Christ, you know and believe that Jesus has come to save His people from their sins, yet He also teaches His followers to expect opposition and hatred.  And you face it. Go ahead and openly, publicly speak God’s truth about marriage, that sex outside of marriage is sinful and calls for repentance, and while you may be not be thrown in jail and beheaded, you certainly will cause some offense.

Jesus is offensive. The proclamation of the Gospel is foolishness to the Gentiles and offensive to the Jews. It is offensive to hear the voice of one crying out from the wilderness that you need to repent of your sins, and your sins are many. It is offensive that Christ calls His people to be holy, to be set apart from the world. It is offensive to think that God would lower Himself to become man, and die on the cross.  That’s not a very Godly thing to do in the eyes of the world, but coming of Christ is exactly what this time of the year is about.  John the Baptist prepares us for Christ's coming at Christmas, and prepares us for our Lord's next coming, which draws ever closer. (Peter Scaer) Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me, says the Lord. 

That Christmas is about Jesus is offensive to the secular Christmas celebration. I’m not talking about being offended at songs written generations ago and taken out of context.  What I am talking about is that Christmas is actually about the Mass of Christ, it is literally the meaning of the name. Keep Christ in Christmas is offensive to many non-Christians. The secular world has its own Christmas season that shares little to nothing with the Christian holiday and wants little to nothing to do with Christ.   

Unfortunately, the idea that we ought to keep the Mass in Christmas is offensive to many Christians. Parents, grandparents, this is to you specifically, but it applies it every single person here, and those who aren’t here. If you stay at home on Christmas, and unwrap presents rather than come to church when you are able, you send the strongest possible message to your children, to your neighbor, and to the world that Christmas is about gifts more than it is about Jesus.  What kind of defense could we have, what kind of excuse, when he came down from heaven for our sake while we can’t even leave the house to go to him? Or when the Magi, who were barbarians and foreigners, hurried from Persia to see him lying in the manger? But you, a Christian, can’t be bothered to travel even a short distance in order to enjoy this blessed sight? (Chrysostom, On the Incarnation)

Repent.  John the Baptist’s cry of “prepare the way for the Lord” is a charge to discern the Lord’s voice calling out to us in the midst of the noise that fills our daily lives and to persevere in the way of faith, and to focus our lives on the things that are good, right, and salutary. Repent, and rejoice.  Rejoice that the Lord is at hand.  He knows your excuses, He knows what offends you. And He still comes anyway. Jesus comes and offends your sense of self pride, your self-righteousness. He does so in order that all we are left with is Jesus, with His righteousness, with His holiness, with His presence.  He comes with mercy, and forgiveness and love. He gives double portion for all your sins. He ends your warfare against Him. He pardons the guiltiness of your sin. Rejoice for the Lord speaks peace and comfort to His people, to His saints. Do not turn back to folly. (Introit) Jesus has come for you. Jesus will come for you again.  

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