Thursday, December 27, 2018

Sermon for Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols: "A Story Behind Every Ornament"

+ Christmas Eve - Service of Lessons and Carols - December 24th, 2018 +
Genesis 3:8-19; Genesis 22:15-19; Isaiah 9:2-7; Isaiah 11:1-9; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 2:1-12; John 1:1-14
Beautiful Savior Lutheran, Milton

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 
Image result for chrismons

A few weeks ago, shortly after the Christmas tree was put up here in the church, I was talking with one of our elders before Divine Service. We admired the tree; it’s beauty, it’s towering branches and, it’s fresh smell. But most of all the carefully crafted ornaments. 

“There’s a story behind every ornament”, he said. It’s true. Every ornament tells us a story.

I know that’s true in our home, as I’m sure it is for many of you. A little crawling baby that tells us the story of someone’s first Christmas. A wooden sea star that tells the story of a joyful wedding. A sailboat that tells us the story of a loving grandpa and great-grandpa. 
Whether they’re big or small, fragile or cat and toddler-proof, old or new, simple or intricate, there’s a story behind every ornament.

And if that’s true in our own homes, it’s all the more true of our Lord’s house, where the tree and all its ornaments point us to Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection for us. 

The circle with the cross fixed to the top is the world covered by the cross, and it tells us the story of Genesis 3. Adam’s fall into sin which spread sin and death to all men. To us. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.As in Adam we die, so in Christ we are made alive.

The Lamb tells us the story of Genesis 22, how God spared Abraham’s son, his only son whom he loved by providing the sacrifice. And how God would not spare his own son but gave him up for us all. God provides the sacrifice in Jesus. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

The lamp and the candlestick tell us that the words of Isaiah 9 have come true in Jesus’ birth for us. The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
   on them has light shone. 
For unto us a child is born.

The crown of thorns tells us the story of Jesus from Isaiah 11. He is the root or shoot of Jesse, the righteous branch that sprouted from the stump of fallen Israel, and one day he will receive the twisted branches of thorns upon his head for you. In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

The dove, looks as if it was descending to us, just as it was promised by God’s Word to Mary through his messenger Gabriel. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

The manger tells us the Christmas story of Luke 2, just as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds. Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
The angels on the tree tell us the story in a song that unites heaven and earth. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

The stars upon the tree tell us the story of the Magi who were led by the light of the star to him who is God of God, Light of light, a lamp unfailing and the very Light of the world in human flesh for you and has brought us from the kingdom of darkness to his marvelous, everlasting light.

The cross and the chalice tell us the story of John 1, that Jesus the Word became flesh and dwelt among usin the crib, on the cross, and in the chalice with his body and blood given and shed for you.

Yes, there’s a story behind every ornament. It is the greatest story of all, for it is the story to which all these ornaments point. It is the story to which all stories in the Scriptures point us. It is the story the angels sang to the shepherds, and that we join in singing and rejoicing in tonight. 

It is the one true and meaningful story of the greatest ornament ever to be placed on a tree. Not a noble, douglas, or grand fir, but the humble tree of the cross, adorned with the greatest ornament of all: Jesus crucified for you.

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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