December 24, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
The lights on the Christmas Tree are off. Some of you noticed and some of you did not, but either way, it is a problem. The lights on the Christmas Tree have to be turned on. Turning the lights back on should be as simple as pushing the in-line button on the power cord, but what if that does not work? Then, it should be as easy as following the cord until you reach the timer and clicking the timer on should make the lights go on, but what if that does not work? Then you need to follow the cord all the way to the outlet and plug it in, but what if that does not turn the tree on? Then you need to go out back, check the circuit breaker and turn it on, but what if that does not work? Then you need to call the power company, but what if they tell you that a solar flare from the sun has knocked the whole grid offline and there will not be any power tonight. Now, most of you are starting to wonder where Pastor is going with all of this.
On the first Christmas Eve, there was darkness in the world. The darkness looks like the large-scale troubles of the world like war, famine and poverty. The darkness also lives closer to home in job loss, sickness, divorce, gossip, cheating, lying, hating, worrying and even death. The darkness are those problems we cannot overcome whether on a world scale or in our own hearts. The darkness is sin. It was in the world on the first Christmas and it is still here. And the darkness is not something that we can overcome, and so it is a problem.
At various times you see the darkness in your life and at other times you do not even realize it is there. When the darkness is there, you try to fix it, but you end up running yourself ragged trying to be perfect in your giving, kindness, patience, gentleness, truthfulness, compassion, relationships, work ethic, posting, etc. You will never be able to do enough good to make up for the darkness, it will always be a problem you cannot solve. And, on the other hand, if you ignore the darkness or even call it good by being apathetic to the hurt around you or the lack of love you show to others, you will never be satisfied. And at the end of your life whether you are acutely aware of the darkness or blind to it, there is the darkness of death.
The only way to end the darkness is with the light. Tonight we hear the good news that the Light of the world has come, that the only one who could save us from the darkness was born. In our reading from Titus 2 we hear these words, 11 “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” God came to the world, he came for you, when all ways overcome and lost in darkness to provide the Light. At the first Christmas, the birth of a baby boy was nothing special and went unnoticed by so many, but for those who saw the glory of God, it changed the world. Which meant it also changed them.
The world has been changed by what Jesus has done, and you have been changed by what Jesus has done. Titus went on to share the good news that your inability to make light shine in the darkness was done for you by God himself, Jesus 14 … “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness.” Jesus did not come as an example to follow so that we could work our way up to being light. Nor did he come to say whatever anyone does whether good or bad, right or wrong, dark or light, does not matter because he is just going to take everyone to a better place when they die. No, he came as light in a dark world, meaning he was good all the time, always loving, kind, patient, truthful, compassionate, against selfishness, against lying and against perversion. He was never darkness, so that when the time came for him to redeem us or buy us back, he gave God the light, the good, the sinless life he wants from you as a trade on the cross dying to pay the punishment you deserve. Jesus experienced true darkness to make you light as Titus went on to write, 14 … “and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” The Light, Jesus has saved you from the darkness of your sins, and he has purified you so that when God sees you, he sees light. When God sees you, he now sees all the good that Jesus did. God now sees you as perfect, you are one of his children and your future is eternal life with him in heaven.
Now that Jesus has saved you, you say, “No” to the darkness. Now you notice the darkness, and you run from it to the good. Now, you notice the darkness, and shine light on it by sharing with others the true problem with their sins, and the truth of Jesus’ forgiveness. And now when you give into the darkness, the Light still shines and the good news is still true that your sins past, present and future are forgiven.
The child born at Christmas was humble, lowly and unnoticed by many, but God’s Son, his Light changed the world, his Light also changed you. Merry Christmas. Amen.