Sermon – Christmas Eve. – Dec. 24, 2012
Zion Lutheran Church, Hoople, ND
The Gospel of Luke
What is it that brings us all here this evening? For many it is a time-old tradition to be here on Christmas Eve. For some perhaps this is your first time. For others, maybe you were dragged here by family members. But whatever the reason, you are here. What is it that brings us here on this pilgrimage – this journey to Bethlehem?
There is an energy in the air tonight. Excitement, anticipation,……mystery. You can’t help but feel it. Like the shepherds that night so long ago, it’s almost too much to comprehend. That’s why the angel said, “fear not.” And there are still things that bring us fear tonight, but the angels speak those words to us as well. “Fear not.! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy that will be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” The energy in the air that night spoke of something extraordinary. Something great was about to happen and the shepherds out in the fields journeyed to the stable in Bethlehem to find out, just as we do.
The stable – where a young mother and her husband sang quiet lullabies. A baby born in a manger – a feed trough for animals – because there was nowhere else for them to go. But this is exactly where God wanted them. This is where the Savior came in the least expected place – a small, quiet town called Bethlehem.
Bethlehem, whose name means house of bread. It’s remarkable when you think of it! Jesus was born in the house of bread to be the Bread of Life for all the world. That baby born in a manger took His first breaths to breathe new life into us, and He took His last breaths to breathe new life into us. Every breath He took from His first to His last was for us. Don’t ever forget that.
It’s impossible to separate the manger and the cross. Jesus was born in a wooden box and died on a wooden cross and to ignore that would be to miss the whole point of this night. “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” John 3:16 That is the reason Jesus was born. There is sin and suffering and evil all around us. There is still pain even on this holy night, but Christ is born and lives among us – lives to be our hope.
Jesus was born for a special purpose. He came so that we might have new life. He came to nourish us – to renew us – to transform us. On this holy night we gather in Bethlehem, the house of bread, to celebrate Communion together and feast on the Bread of Life.
And as we receive Jesus in the bread and wine the Christ Child is born anew in each one of us. He is with us wherever we go. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. In this Communion – we receive the bread and we, ourselves, become houses of bread for the Savior.
What is it that brings us here tonight? Like the holy family and the shepherds long ago, we are exactly where God wants us to be. We too have been led to Bethlehem. It is the miracle and mystery of this Bread of Life – come down from heaven – born in a manger – hung on a tree and risen, so that we may have new life. We come to Bethlehem, the house of bread, to celebrate the birth of Jesus – Feast of Love, Hope for the World, Emmanuel, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, the Great I AM! Merry Christmas!