Friday, December 24, 2010

The Eve of the Nativity: A Devotional Commentary

Isaiah 9:2-7 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who lived in the land of the shadow of death, on them the light has shined. You have multiplied the nation. You have increased their joy. They rejoice before you according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as in the day of Midian. For all the armor of the armed man in the noisy battle, and the garments rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we would live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works.

Luke 2:1-14 Now it happened in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant. It happened, while they were there, that the day had come that she should give birth. She brought forth her firstborn son, and she wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn. There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people. For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.” Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”

The world took no notice and had you been there you would have taken no notice either but God was born. God comes to bring salvation to all men but we still take little notice. God comes to bring us salvation in the Divine Service. If we go to the Divine Service we wait for it to be over and think about other things. Some deny that God really comes in the Divine Service just as they deny that He came in the Nativity. They may allow for some spiritual feelings about God but no real presence of God in the sacrament of the altar--that's all just superstition. Some of us pay lip service to real bodily presence but don't act as if He's really there. We think we need more outlandish means of bringing God to people. But still God comes whether we acknowledge Him or not. We still receive the same Jesus that was incarnate and born of the virgin Mary. We receive the same Jesus who created the universe and provides food for us every day lying in a feeding trough. We receive the Jesus who was wrapped in burial cloths on the very day of His birth signifying that He came to die for us.

Our king comes to us whether we like it or not in the Divine Service and He will come again in judgment. The unbeliever can only fear and dread His coming. The unbeliever may deny that He comes but He still comes. His coming is our Blessed Hope. He will resurrect our bodies, He will give us true life. There will be no end to His reign.

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