Thursday, December 25, 2014

Sermon for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass: "Home for the Holy Days"

+ Christmas Midnight Mass – December 24th, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

There you are sitting in driver’s seat. A cramp in one leg. The other leg asleep. Disney’s Frozen soundtrack has been playing non-stop for the last 725 miles. At any moment someone’s bladder will remind them it’s been twenty three and a half minutes since the last rest stop. Everyone’s tired and hungry. When the single most quoted sentence in all of travel history is blurted out.

“Dada…Are we there yet?”

Our Advent waiting, preparing, and longing is a little like that, isn’t it. O Come thou Key of David, come…and open wide our heavenly home. Are we there yet? Is it is Christmas? Count the candles: 1 -2 – 3- 4; purple, purple, pink, purple…and tonight…white at last. The fast is over. Let the feast begin.

Don’t you think Mary was thinking the same thing as she was traveling pregnant on that luxury donkey? Joseph, are we there yet?

You see this in the holiday movies too. The agonizing journey home, where everything that could go wrong does, and everything: traffic, weather, mechanical failures, gets in the way of a smooth trip, like Steve Martin in Planes, trains, and automobiles or Kevin’s mom racing home to New York in Home Alone. Even the radio blares it into our ears: there’s no place like home for the holidays. I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

Are we there yet?

Well, wake up, you sleepy heads. This is no dream. St. Luke places Jesus’ birth right up there in the halls of history next to Caesar Augustus. And it came to pass in those days.
Christmas is finally here.
You can just imagine the relief. Bethlehem on the horizon. Candlelit windows. Finally some rest. At last they had made it to Bethlehem, David’s home.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
Rejoice for this little child was born in darkness and in his gentle, fragile infant flesh we see Light of light, very God of very God. Rejoice, for we who dwell in the land of the shadow of death Jesus’ birth shines forth with uncreated light.

Rejoice, for tonight… Jesus makes his home with us at Christmas to bring us home with him.
She brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Note well that though Jesus is a greater King than Caesar he is not born in the gilded, marble hewn Imperial palace in Rome or a picturesque seaside villa overlooking the Mediterranean. They laid him in a manger.

For all of us city-slickers, that’s a feeding trough. You can just imagine the look on the donkey’s face when he stares into his food dish only to discover a baby…and no ordinary baby at that…his Creator. The beasts of the field bow their heads and worship as the angels before the Creator clothed in humanity.

Jesus is born as you were. Born of a woman. Born under the Law to redeem us from the law. Born as we are: a son of man, to make us as he is: a son of the Father. Born homeless to bring us home.

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Jesus is born homeless for us who wander in sinful exile. Many long years we’ve wandered in the desert wasteland east of Eden. At times God has tested us. Other times the devil has tempted us. We’ve lost loved ones along the way. We’ve wrestled with sin. We’ve lost our way. Our sin which promised such pleasure, leaves only guilt and despair in us. We have not become gods like the devil promised. We’ve become orphans. Death hounds us at every turn. And we’re far from home. But all of that ends tonight. Your wandering is over.

Jesus makes his home with us at Christmas to bring us home with him.
Jesus is born in humility to bring you perfection in his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes so that you would be freed from the snares of death. Jesus had no other place in the inn, so that you might have a room in his heavenly mansion.
Your exile is over. The powers of hell flee before the little child. Death shivers at Jesus’ birth. Jesus, the rightful King, comes to bring you home from behind enemy lines. He is an infant warrior. Born to fight and die for you. This little baby, though being rich, for your sakes became poor, so that by his poverty you might be rich. He will be wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a virgin tomb. Jesus made his home in our flesh, to die for you, to make his bed in our grave, and to raise our flesh in his resurrection.

In exchange for our lawlessness of sin Jesus bestows safety and security in his heavenly kingdom. In place of our loneliness and despair, Jesus gives us joy in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the life everlasting. In place of our deathly exile, Jesus gives us a heavenly home.

Jesus makes his home with sinners…to bring you home with him. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

The angels announce the message of salvation, not to the top of the social-political ladder, not in the halls of Caesar…but to lowly shepherds, with dirt under their finger nails, sheep manure covering their garments, and sinful hearts just like ours.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Peace isn’t a feeling. Peace is a person: Jesus born for you. Born that man no more may die. Jesus is born to make makes his home with us at Christmas to bring us home with him. Death’s silence is broken by the shouts of good news and great joy. Sin’s darkness is dispelled by the Light of the world in a manger. The infant Son leads you back to your heavenly Father.

Welcome home for the holy days. We’re here at last. Christmas has arrived. And once again, Jesus makes his home with us, and in a magnificent feast. The host you receive is Jesus’ house of bread. His body born for you is now present to forgive you. This cup you drink, it is true communion with his blood, shed for your forgiveness.

The Promised Land is in view. Bethlehem is on the horizon. Christ is born for you. Welcome home.

A blessed Christmas to each of you…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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