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Luke 2:1-7

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's the Problem?

Christmas Eve

24 December 2014

When we understand properly what was lost in the fall, only then will we properly understand what was restored to us by the incarnation of the Word. The law precedes the gospel. The problem comes before the solution. At the Christmas Eve service of lessons and carols, the first lesson is Genesis 3, the story of the fall. This hardly seems appropriate given the joy of the Christmas Eve service. Yet, it is exactly right. The joy that is given by the rescue of the incarnation is heightened when we understand the depth from which we have been rescued. We who were made subject to death have been freed from its power. We who had no kind of righteousness of our own have been given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We who could not approach heaven have had heaven brought to us. We who are but dust shall be raised incorruptible. We who will die shall live forever. 

 

Leo the Great 

 

"Let the righteous then rejoice in the Lord, and let the hearts of believers turn to God's praise, and the sons of men confess His wondrous acts; since in God's work of the Nativity especially our humble estate realizes how highly its Maker values it. After His great gift to mankind in making us after His image, He contributed far more largely to our restoration when the Lord Himself took on Him 'the form of a slave' (Phil 2:7). For though all that the Creator expends upon His creature is part of one and the same paternal love, yet it is less wonderful than man should advance to divine things than that God should descend to humanity. But unless the Almighty God did deign to do this, no kind of righteousness, no form of wisdom could rescue any one from the devil's bondage and from the depths of eternal death.

 

"For the condemnation that passes with sin from one upon all would remain, and our nature, corroded by its deadly wound, would discover no remedy, because it could not alter its state in its own strength. For the first man received the substance of flesh from the earth, and was quickened with a rational spirit by the in-breathing of his Creator (1Co 15:45; Gn 2:7), so that living after the image and likeness of his Maker, he might preserve the form of God's goodness and righteousness as in a bright mirror. And, if he had perseveringly maintained this high dignity of his nature by observing the law that was given him, his uncorrupted mind would have raised the character even of his earthly body to heavenly glory.

 

"But because in unhappy rashness he trusted the envious deceiver, and agreeing to his presumptuous counsels, preferred to forestall rather than to win the increase of honor that was in store for him. Not only did that one man, but in him all that came after him also hear the verdict: 'earth you are, and to earth you shall return' (Gn 3:19); therefore, 'As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust' (1Co 15:48), and no one is immortal, because no one is heavenly."

 

Leo the Great, Sermons on the Nativity

 

Prayer

O God, to whom glory is sung in the highest while on earth peace is proclaimed and good will toward men, grant that good will to us, Your servants, cleanse us from all our sins, and give perpetual peace to us and to all people; through Your mercy, O God, You who are blessed and govern all things, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

For Pastor Michael Leise, who was admitted to the hospital last Friday with the flu and pneumonia, that he might recover from his illness and be returned to his flock

 

For all those who are lonely or neglected this holy night, that the Lord would use us to call them into the warmth of the nativity

 

For the enduring gift of Christmas joy throughout the season of the incarnation, that we would know the joy that has no end

 

For all those who partake of Christ's body and blood this Christmas season, that they would be strengthened in the true faith to life everlasting

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Nativity c. 1515

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Memorial Lutheran Church | 5800 Westheimer Rd. | Houston | TX | 77057