A very Merry Christmas to you! As we celebrate Jesus’ birth today, we read a portion of the Christmas Day sermon in Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis.
To you is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord. That is who is for you from God. Such is God for you. Fear Him above all else and from Him hear the message. Nothing comes ahead of that; nothing is surer than that. Everything else comes after that, fits in with that, is illuminated by that fact. You have it on the highest authority that Christ has been born. It is an authority not of power but of love. God is pleased with us; He loves us. If we fully believed that, then surely our hearts would burst, says Martin Luther. “Born in us today.” Yes, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me out of refusing to be loved so much. Let Your body and blood have their way with me so I know how incredibly You join me and love me to death and by Your death win forgiveness for me, who is accepted, embraced, joined with You.
Then we go back to what it is that we have in the way of sheep to tend, carpentry to do, child and home to care for. The same tasks, but different. That is where we carry and heed the message, and in living out our calling, God will do things through us that are beyond our knowing and planning, as He did through the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and even Cesar Augustus and Quirinius. We are there for God as He may be pleased to use us. We let Him be the Lord. Would we wish to change Him or submit Him to doing things according to our prescriptions? Mary had to learn later that God had His own way of doing what was His to do—a cross and a sword through her heart. But she held to the words, good words, words of the Savior who is Christ the Lord in the stable and on the cross.
You came to hear the good words again, bringing along the parts of you that still say no, the parts from a world of death and taxes and all the things that threaten to wear away your life or trivialize it. The good words help us through to the rock bottom of what happened, and on that we can build, fitting in with that all the pieces and layers of our lives, the hard things and certainly the happy things too. We can let them be the happy things they are—family, home, friends together, gifts, food, drink, and all the fun and kindliness of Christmas—for they are liberated from having to cover a wretchedness or emptiness of heart. For our heart is now fixed where true joy is found, and that is more than anything that offers it a contradiction.
Devotional reading is adapted from Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis, pages 31–32 © 2004 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Video is of “Gigue on Joy to the World” from Repeat the Sounding Joy: Five Christmas Tunes for Trumpet and Organ © 2017 Concordia Publishing House.