Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM
               Divine Service 10:30 AM

Wednesday: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM
                   Divine Service 7:00 PM 

Private Confession: By Appointment

God's Unpspeakable Gift

December 24, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Lloyd Gross

Verse: 2 Corinthians 9:15

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Christmas Eve
II Corinthians 9:15

Now sing we,now rejoice. Now raise to heaven our voice. With such words we make our sanctuary ring as we celebrate the birth of the Messiah. When He first appeared the people of Bethlehem had their sleep interrupted by a crew of shepherds who had seen an angel from heaven. He had told them the Messiah was the Lord, the God of Israel Himself. He had assumed mortal flesh to make the dwelling of God with men. That seems important enough that we could disentangle ourselves from the commercial vanities of the season, and quietly meditate on this great mystery. But can we really wrap our heads around this, that the incomprehensible Son of God has become a poor baby.

This is by no means God's only gift. He richly and daily provides us with all good things, just as we provide for our children. They respond to us with joy and gratitude. But nothing that we give our children can compare to this. The Holy Child did not look like much. He was a newborn infant lying on a bed of straw. There wasn't any ring of light around His head. The angel hadn't said anything about halos; just swaddling and a manger. All babies of that time would have been swaddled. But the manger is a distinctive mark. Humble as it may be, it would make Jesus stand out in a crowd.

St. Paul is telling us in our text that there is no language available by which we can express the value of what God has given us in the manger. Still, Christmas gifts are a good metaphor to organize our thoughts about it. Do you say, “It's the thought that counts”? Consider the thought behind God's gift. Consider what hateful and rebellious creatures we were, how our entire race trampled on God's Commandments, yet God shows holy charity, perfect charity, unspeakable charity. God's unspeakable love was the thought behind the unspeakable gift.

Now let's consider the package. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th'Incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel. The package has mysteries of its own. It is plain that a miracle occurred. But The birth of Jesus from a Virgin was no accident. God planned it that way. He doesn't tell us how it happened, but He does assure us that in the weakness of the Babe lives all the supreme power of heaven. Don't confuse the issue by trying to figure it out. Humble as the package may be, this Baby is the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the Nations. Perhaps we would have found a fancier wrapping, but God gets straight to the point: here is the Babe, true God and true man. You don't have to be rich to be truly human. So Immanuel is poor although He is Lord of all.

Should we see whether there's a price tag on the gift? I hope you don't really do that. But then all the gifts we exchange are of finite value. God's unspeakable gift is of infinite value, but there is no charge for it. Not that any price would be adequate. Can anyone mark down all the glory of heaven and earth?

Now, open the gift. Are we going to ask, “How can I use this?” If we can't use it, should we exchange it? Would we take it to the store and return it? The angel clearly called Him a Savior. Gabriel told Mary, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, a Hebrew verb that means “He will deliver.” “Hosanna” is the imperative form, meaning, “Save, now.” Nothing in the midst of fallen humanity could undo the horrible curse of sin. We need a savior from the outside, a deliverer who was stronger than sin and death. Throughout the Old Testament patriarchs and judges, prophets and priests, kings and princes were sustained by the hope that God would some day fulfill His Word. They did not know the Holy Name, but they knew sin was the problem, that God loved them, and that somehow He would bring salvation. Christmas tells us who; Easter tells us how.

Is there anyone who wants to exchange this gift? What would you rather have? A career that makes you famous? A life of endless pleasure? An intellect that explores all mysteries? A pretty face? A gold mine? All such things are altogether vanity. Or do you think you don't need to be saved, that you are righteous enough to stand by yourself before God? If the angels thought it was worth their while to give a concert for the shepherds to celebrate, then how can you be less than thankful? This gift wasn't for the angels. They didn't need it. He is for us, who are anything but angelic. Is any heart so dull, any mind so distracted by vanities, that it cannot fall down in gratitude to God for his unspeakable gift? What we do need now is to shift the focus of our hope from the first Advent to the second which is still a promise. We praise God for the thought, the package, the value, and the purpose of His gift. And we praise Him for the hope that leads us on to the time when He brings us beyond these former things to the everlasting dwelling of God with men. AMEN.