Old Testament Reading
Micah 5:2–5a (MT 5:1–4a)
Micah 5:2–5a (MT 5:1–4a)
“What it means to find Christ in such poverty, and what His swaddling clothes and manger signify, are explained in the previous Gospel [Luke 2:1–14]. His poverty teaches us to find Him in our neighbors, the lowliest and the most needy of them. His swaddling clothes are the Holy Scriptures. The result is that in our life of work we deal with the needy, but in our life of study and meditation we deal only with the Scriptures. Thus Christ alone is important for both lives; He stands before us in every purpose” (LW 75:254).
On Christmas Day, 1881, C. F. W. Walther was invited to preach on predestination at a church in Macoupin County, Illinois. This day also coincided with the church’s anniversary, and Walther took the opportunity to address the intimidating topic in light of Ephesians 1:3–6.
“The abundance and the happiness in the Land of the Promise are the riches of the gifts of the Spirit, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge given us in Christ, where we dwell safely and richly in every blessing of heaven (1 Cor. 1:4–5). Here it is necessary that we be not puffed up as though we were satiated, but that we gratefully bless God, who has given all these things to those who were not only undeserving but even cursed and lost under the poverty of sin” (LW 9:97–98).
“Whoever does not have this faith—that Christ is his with every good thing—does not yet believe correctly. He is not a Christian, and his heart is not cheerful and eager. Only faith makes Christians who are cheerful, eager, secure, saved, and God’s children, where the Holy Spirit must dwell. That is such beautiful, bright, and costly clothing, which has such exceedingly precious ornaments, jewels, and gems—all virtue, grace, wisdom, truth, righteousness, and whatever is in Christ—that St. Paul says, ‘I thank God for His inexpressible gift’ [2 Cor. 9:15]. St. Peter says that great and costly blessings are given to us through Christ (2 Peter 1 [:4])” (LW 76:21).
“From this command [John 20:21–23] we have the power to comfort distressed consciences and to absolve from sin, and we know that wherever we exercise this office not we but Christ Himself is doing these things. Therefore, each Christian, in this situation as well as from the pulpit, should listen to the pastor or preacher not as a man, but as God Himself. Then he can be certain and does not at all need to doubt that he has the forgiveness of sins. Christ has established through His resurrection that when a called minister—or whoever it is in time of need—speaks an absolution to his neighbor who is alarmed and desires comfort, it will avail just as much as if He Himself had done it, for it happens at His command and in His name” (LW 77:141).
“But it is the chief subject of all Holy Scripture to know and understand God when He makes a promise. For He helps and brings support even with the actual realization of His promise and when it is fulfilled; but before this He disciplines faith in the promise by means of a lack of the things of which we are in need. He does this in order that we may learn to trust Him and not to tempt Him” (LW 8:201).