Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sermon for Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols: "Christmas is for Hearing and Singing"

+ The Nativity of our Lord, Christmas Eve – December 24th, 2016 +
Service of Lessons and Carols
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

As so many of our favorite Christmas teach us, Christmas is for hearing and singing.

Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.

On Christmas night, all Christians sing, to hear the news the angels bring.

Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth; Ye who sang creation’s story, now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Tonight we hear the Good News of great joy: unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. And we sing with the angels: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.

We could take away all the trappings of Christmas - as the Grinch tried to do in Dr. Suess’ famous children’s book – and we could still have Christmas. We would stand in our pews or our homes like the Whos down in Whoville in joyful defiance as we join heaven and nature in singing: “Joy to the World, the Lord, our Savior, is come…to save you.

Even in the trenches of WW I, the thunderous chorus of mortars and machine guns were silenced and German and American soldiers filled no man’s land with the sounds of singing, and at least for a short time, it was a Silent Night.

Christmas is for hearing and singing.

And yet, as God’s Word teaches us, hearing and singing God’s Word is difficult, even at Christmas, maybe especially at Christmas.

The sights and sounds of the hectic holiday season surround us. We hear the radio blasting: “have a holly jolly Christmas” but we rarely hear why. Though we live in a land of Christmas lights and decorations that rival Clark Griswold’s display of exterior illumination, Isaiah was right. We dwell in a land of deep darkness. Terror on the news. Tragedy in our communities. Broken homes and marriages. Disease, sin, and death. Despair in our hearts and minds. And the devil, who sang his siren song to Adam and Eve, still chants his funeral dirge in our ears: did God really say?

But all of that changes tonight. Christmas is for hearing and singing.

Tonight we sing with Mary, My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…for the child born of Mary is the child promised to Adam and Eve and all creation. The eternal Word of God who spoke creation into being, is now an infant creature, crying out in his mother’s arms.

Tonight we sing with Abraham and Sarah for God has not withheld his son, his only begotten son from us. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…for you.

Tonight we sing with Isaiah and all the prophets: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwell in the land of deep darkness on them has light shined. For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.

Tonight we rejoice with Joseph in the child named Jesus who saves you from your sins. He is Immanuel, God with us, God one of us. God for us in the manger and on the cross. God is man, man to deliver.

Tonight, at last, the din of Satan’s chaotic lies is drown out by the angel choirs.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

This song, first heard by the shepherds, was the greatest moment in the history of the angel choirs. They intoned the song of the redeemed of God. They sounded the first note in a long processional of those, including you, who will come out of the great tribulation and join the Christmas choirs of heaven.

From that first note that rang out in the dark, every song, carol, hymn, and canticle we sing, are echoes and antiphons of this eternal hymn: Glory to God in the highest. Heaven’s song comes to earth as Earth’s savior comes from heaven. Glory in the poverty of the manger. Glory in the humble birth. Glory in the forgiveness of sins. Glory the name of Jesus who saves you from your sin. Glory in death on the cross for you.

Tonight the angels song is our song. Heaven and earth join in this song of praise. through life and time and death, through sorrow and pain and tears, until in heaven and on earth there is only one song again and we are singing it with him: Glory to God in the highest.
Christmas is for hearing and singing.

We hear the Good News: Christ the Savior is born for you.

And we sing God’s praises: Glory to God in the highest.

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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