Live In The Glow of Christmas

December 31, 2017

Pastor John Hering

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:Luke 2 29

29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

People probably thought they gave you great presents for Christmas. But, some of the toys are already broken, new clothes are put away, and some of the presents really didn’t go over too well. Not very thoughtful, you know what I mean? And if you had a real Christmas tree the needles are falling off. If you forgot to water the poinsettias plants, the leaves are wilting. Even the garbage collector’s schedule is all off track, so you might have trash cans over-flowing with boxes, wrapping and some stinking leftovers. Or maybe you are one of the estimated 100 million people who traveled, but after visiting relatives did you get a sense that they were more happy to see you go than when you arrived? The Christmas meal was great – but now how will you squeeze into your New Year’s clothes you hoped to fit into? Christmas is nice.  We look forward to it.  We spend weeks preparing for it and bask in its glow. But, it’s over in a flash and maybe you’re felling a little let down. Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep the Christmas glow burning in our hearts? Dear friends, may the Holy Spirit use three unique scenes in Luke’s Gospel to make it clear to you. Then you can

Live In The Glow of Christmas Glory

  1. Jesus does What’s Right
  2. Jesus Gives us Sight
  3. Jesus Raises us to new Height

After unpacking the Irobot vacuum cleaner and putting it all together you realize there are still some parts left in the box.  No matter – you plug it in to charge the batteries and three hours later that little robot is vacuuming your floors all by itself. But, what about those extra parts still in the box? Doesn’t matter, right? There isn’t a penalty for having no idea where they go! Fine, but you all know the penalty for breaking just ONE of God’s commandments. It is vitally important that you never forget this either! The OT prophet Ezekiel said, “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ez 18:4). This statement from God is vital because it is final for those who don’t know the real glow of Christmas. Yes, Christmas is about loving, but mostly it is about recalling God’s love for us to send his Son to enter the world. But, Christmas also says, “The Son of God entered our world and did what was right as a counter-balance to all the things we do wrong!”

The Bible doesn’t record all that much about Jesus’ life from birth to about age 30, when he gets to his mission of saving the world. But, what the Bible does say about Jesus’ young life has important lessons for you.  What we read today is more than just church members cooing over a new born that is brought to God’s house. Listen: “ Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.

26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God.”

It is a touching scene—not touching in a mushy sort of way a new movie release at Christmas time touches us, but Simeon touching the promised Messiah who was brought to the temple to do something to Jesus. Do you know what that is?

22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”).”

Luke 2:22-23

Listen to Luther’s commentary: “Had God ordered to circumcise the hand or tongue, that would have indicated that the source of the trouble lay there, in our words and deeds, and that God were pleased with the nature and the person and displeased with the words and deeds.  But now that he takes that member which has no other work than that the nature and personal essence are made by it, God clearly indicates that the whole essence of nature is corrupt, that the birth and origin is contaminated by sin—that is original sin, nature sin, person sin, the real main sin. Without that sin there would be no real sin. (XI 287). Christ thus was not circumcised for His own sake, but for our sake, because in circumcision He also was our substitute.  Circumcision was the first act in His obedience to the Law, and, as in this case Jesus fulfilled the Law.”

So what does all of this have to do with us living in the glow of Christmas? Let me connect the dots for you and get to the heart of the meaning of Christmas. Jesus came to do everything right so God could credit all that right-ness to us. When we find ourselves less than perfect (from leaving unassembled vacuum parts in the box to, breaking a Christmas glass and breaking trust, breaking promises, to breaking any of God’s commands)… when we are less than perfect we can look to Jesus who was perfect for us.  Today, through his parents bringing Jesus to be circumcised they are carefully following the laws given to the Israelites. We get to say, “Jesus did what was right.” That is the glow of Christmas. Jesus came to do what’s right, so you and I can be right with God.  Believe it! Live in the Glow of Christmas because did what’s right and

Jesus Gives Us Sight!

Maybe you know someone who is blind, or at least can’t see very well. It causes you to give special thanks for your eye-sight, doesn’t it? Maybe you know someone who is blind, but they are Christians, which means that have better spiritual sight than 5 billion people in the world. So, what is the greater miracle at Christmas? To see the Christmas lights or to see Jesus the Light of the world? Physical sight so you can cross the street or spiritual sight so you can be taken to heaven? Simeon and Anna had spiritual eye-sight.

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying….. ” Simeon and Anna had spiritual sight.  They knew the curse of sin and spiritual blindness. That’s why they grabbed on so carefully and closely to God’s promises of the gift that brought spiritual sight. Anna was worshiping, and Simeon was given an amazing vision: “26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” Then their spiritual eyes were given the joy of seeing their Savior. Simeon records what are now famous words that we sing after receiving communion: “29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

Anna and Simeon saw the promised Messiah through their eyes of faith. They also were used by the Holy Spirit to prophesy about this Christ-child,

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.

Jesus is the dividing line between eternal heaven and eternal hell, between those falling and those rising. When Jesus died, the sight of his crucifixion would pierce his mother’s soul, but his very suffering and death would rescue sinners like Mary, Joseph, Simeon, Anna and you and me.

Dear friends, look again at the Christmas scene.  Our Savior is born into a manger made of wood, only foreshadowing the cross made of wood. Live in the glow of Christmas. See Jesus who did everything that was right, with eyes of faith that give you sight. And as you do….

Jesus will lift your worship to a new height!

People probably thought they gave you great gifts at Christmas.  Time will tell if they did.  A woman was asked about her necklace and she said, “My grandmother gave me this at Christmas when I was 15 years old.  I wear it nearly every day.”  A co-workers asks, “Where did you get that model airplane on the corner of your desk?”  “I got it when I was in 5th grade.  My dad and I put it together.” Time will tell if you think the gifts you received at Christmas were “great” gifts or not.

Simeon and Anna received a very special gift—the gift of unending worship. They appeared to know what worship was all about already. Luke says, “She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,

37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” Not a very hard scene to imagine, is it? But, the Holy Spirit raised her worship to new heights! It was the greatest gift of all—the Christ-child! “38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.” Or how about those words of Simeon, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.

When you read these accounts it just doesn’t sound like their worship was refined to the temple area for an hour—although they wouldn’t miss it for the world! Doesn’t seem their life was limited to the area around the temple—although you would probably find them there is anything related to the worship and praise of God was going on there. It seems their worship began with falling in love with God by hearing his promises and about God’s amazing love for them.  Then when they spied the Christ-child it seems they couldn’t contain themselves in order to give thanks to the Lord encouraged fellow worshipers with them… “My eyes have seen God’s salvation!” Seems the glory of the Christ-child raised their worship to new heights so that they loved those around them who didn’t know their Savior, yet.

People probably did give you some great gifts at Christmas. God gave you his best. You’ll know how much you appreciate that gift from God over the next year by how you worship.  Now, when I say “worship” I know many of you think I’m talking about the Sunday schedule. You know, we expect church to start at 7:45, 9:00 or 10:30 and be done about an hour later because that’s about all the time we’ve schedule in for God on Sunday. But, I hope you see now that worship is more than just putting in some time for church. Worship starts with a moment in time when God called you by the gospel (baptism or Word), when the Christ-child touched your heart and worship continues on as you give your witness about him.   What does this look like?

When the Word of God that you’ve heard here becomes the basis for discussion in the car on the way home, your worship has been raised to new heights. When the music you sing here is humming in your heart tomorrow at work, your worship has been raised to new heights. When your friend or co-worker wonders how you can smile during the holidays even though your family faced tragedy and you respond, “Because my loved one is with the Christ-child in heaven!!” then your worship has been raised to new heights.  When your neighbors see your car leave your driveway every Sunday to come here to worship the Lord, then your worship has been raised to new heights.  Then the afterglow of Christmas glory will continue to burn in your hearts the whole year.

If you haven’t done so already, I’m sure the Christmas decorations at your house will come down and be packed away just like these in the church. But, keeping these decorations up all year around won’t keep the glow of Christmas in your heart. You know better. You know the glow of Christmas glory is Jesus who did everything right, gave you spiritual sight that raises your worship to an all new height. You know Jesus loves you, was born for you, and wants you to live with him in the Glow of Christmas Glory forever! Amen!

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