121225 Luke 2:13-14

Last Updated on Monday, 31 December 2012 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Luke 2:13-14
Theme: Glory to God in the Highest!

"Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'"

There are many different things that bring people joy at this time of year. For some, it may be getting that present that was on the top of their Christmas list. For others, it may be the time that is spent with family and friends. For us as Christian, we know that the true and lasting joy of this time of year comes in the Good News of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. One thing that many people enjoy at this time of year is the music that we hear. What is your favorite type of Christmas music? Maybe you enjoy listening to music played by a single instrument, like a guitar, a harp or a piano. Maybe for you the best Christmas music is that played by an entire orchestra of instruments. Perhaps you are like me, and enjoy listening to a large choir sing out those familiar Christmas hymns. Imagine how the shepherds felt that first Christmas night. They were in a quite field, watching after the flocks of sheep, when suddenly the sky turned blinding bright. Then a messenger from the Lord began to speak to them. Then suddenly that one angel was joined by a massive choir of angels. All proclaiming the Good News that the Savior, Jesus Christ, had been born. As we gather together this Christmas Day to give glory to our New-Born King, we will look at the praise of the angels as they proclaimed, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

As we begin this morning, it is important for us to remember whose birth is being announced here. It is not some king or wealthy person. It is Jesus, the only Son of God and the only Savior of all mankind, who willingly humbled himself to be born as a human being. What the angel said to the shepherds, he says to all of us here this Christmas Morning, "'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.'" Jesus Christ, God's own Son, left his throne of glory, and lived on this earth as a true man. The ruler of all things was chosen to be the sacrifice for all sins. He lived the perfect life we could never hope to live. He suffered. He died. But, the grave could not hold him, and his resurrection is the guarantee that the price for sin is "paid in full". The resurrection of Jesus is also the promise that those who die believing in him as their only Savior, will conquer death, just as he did Easter morning.

That's why the whole company of angels could praise God saying, "'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" Notice who it is that the angels offer their praise and worship. It is the one and only true God. In Psalm 148 we read these words, "Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens. Praise him from the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. Praise the Lord." Why all this praise? Because, as the angels said, "'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" The peace that the angels were speaking about, the peace that the Savior brings, is not a political peace between the nations and rulers of this world. What the angels were talking about in their hymn of praise is that through Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone, sinful mankind enjoys peace with the one and only true God. As we talked about in worship this past Sunday, it is a peace that had to be won for us. For the Bible is clear that "the sinful mind is hostile to God." In chapter 5 of Paul's letter to the Romans we read, "When we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son." Peace with our heavenly Father is ours to enjoy, not because of anything we have done, but only because of God's grace shown to us. As we read in Titus, chapter 2, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." Jesus Christ is the one who came to this earth and won full and free forgiveness of all sins through his perfect life, and his innocent suffering and death.

How is your Christmas celebration going for you? Are you taking the proper time to offer our loving Savior-God the praise and glory he alone deserves? You may answer, "Well, yes I am Pastor. After all, I am here in Church on Christmas Day!" But what about the rest of your day-to-day celebration of our Savior's birth? Do you find yourself celebrating the birth of your Savior only when it is convenient for you or when it is something you feel you HAVE to do? Are you giving the one and only true God praise and glory each moment of your day-to-day life? Or, do your words and actions, far too often, give him anything but glory and honor? All of us here this morning will have to confess that we have failed to give our loving God the glory and praise he alone deserves each and every day of our lives. And the message of God's Law is that this sin, along with the sin we are born in, makes us guilty. Our sin condemns us. Because of our sinfulness we don't deserve to have any peace or joy, at this time of year or ever! Rather then hearing about God's favor, all we should hear is the sad news of God's wrath and anger; to be judged by him to a never-ending life of suffering in the flames and torment of hell.

If this were the only message God's Word had for us this Christmas Morning none of us would be able to leave here today with any joy or peace. However, there is so much more we are able to hear from the Word of our God. With a heart filled with sadness because of our sins, as we confess to our God our sin of neglecting his Word and all our other many sins, we hear from God's Word the Good News of the Gospel. When the Gospel message of Jesus Christ our Savior hits our ears, our hearts are filled with joy and peace. We have joy and peace as we hear the Good News that through Jesus Christ our Savior we have the gift of full and free forgiveness of all our sins won for us. We have joy knowing that we are at peace with our Father in heaven. His favor rests on us. This joy is ours, this peace is ours, and the favor of the heavenly Father is ours not because of anything we have done, but only because of what Jesus Christ, the Father's gift to us, has won and given to us. It is the Good News of our forgiveness through our New-Born King that motivates us and empowers us to live lives that give him the praise and glory he alone deserves. As we enjoy the celebration of our Savior's first coming into this world, we do so looking forward to that time when he will come again in all his glory to take us home to his side in the glory of heaven. Then, for all eternity, in the perfect peace and joy of heaven we will join our voices with the choir of angels and all believers in the song of praise, "'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'" Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
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Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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