Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve

The Nativity of our Lord – Christmas Eve Candlelight Vespers
December 24, 2009

Hymn: 379: “O Come, All Ye Faithful”

Isaiah 9:2-7: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4 For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Comments: Jesus Christ is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome. He brings His light into the darkness of our sin, the darkness of violence, of sickness, of death. He comes to break through the darkness, to grant us forgiveness, peace, healing, and resurrection. “Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light, And usher in the morning… This Child, though weak in infancy, Our confidence and joy will be, The pow’r of Satan breaking, Our peace with God now making” (LSB 378:1).

Hymn: 378: “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light”

Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Comments: Jesus both justifies and sanctifies. He declares us righteous and makes us holy. It is all by grace. It is a great and mighty wonder, that God should become flesh, born of a virgin, to redeem our flesh and save our souls. “The Word becomes incarnate And yet remains on high” (LSB 383:2). The grace of God appears in the flesh. God becomes a man. He unites our flesh to Himself. He pays the penalty for our sin. He dies for our redemption. He makes us new by His resurrection. He redeems us from lawlessness. He purifies us for Himself. He makes us zealous to do good works to His glory and for the benefit of our neighbor. “Proclaim the Savior’s birth: ‘To God on high be glory And peace to all the earth!’”

Hymn: 383: “A Great and Mighty Wonder”

Luke 2:1-7: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 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, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 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.

Comments: The birth of our Lord Jesus Christ is grounded in history. It happens in a real town, Bethlehem, in a real stable, among lowing cattle and bleating goats. It takes place when Quirinius is governor of Syria, under the empire of Caesar Augustus. Historical events bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem to be registered. You can investigate the historical sources. All of the facts line up. The Son of God is born into our history to redeem our history. He is wrapped in our history, wrapped in our flesh, wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a manger. “O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today” (LSB 361:4).

Hymn: 361: “O Little Town of Bethlehem”

Luke 2:8-14: And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Comments: The holy angels do not announce the Savior’s birth to King Herod or Governor Quirinius or Caesar. They do not sing to the High Priest or temple clergy. Instead, the poor have the Good News preached to them. They come to the lowly, despised shepherds, keeping watch over their flock by night. While the rest of the world slumbers in ignorance, heaven is aglow with rejoicing that spills over onto earth. The angels and the multitude of the heavenly host proclaim the glory of God and peace on earth, peace with God, the peace that can only come from the Seed of the woman come to crush the serpent’s head. This Gospel, proclaimed by an angel to the poor Judean shepherds, is also for you. “Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing; Come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King” (LSB 368:3).

Hymn: 368: “Angels We Have Heard on High”

Luke 2:15-20: When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Comments: The Gospel message of the heavenly host gives strength and courage to the quaking shepherds. Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us. They find the Child, just as it had been told them. The prophecy is fulfilled. Messiah has come to save His people from their sins. God is in the flesh. He is Emmanuel, God with us. This Good News is to be confessed abroad, as the shepherds made known all the things that had been told them concerning this Child. And it is to be treasured and pondered in the heart, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay Close by me forever and love me, I pray” (LSB 364:3). Be near me and abide with me. Abide with Your holy Church. Keep us in the faith of this blessed Gospel. And take us at last to heaven, to live with Thee there.

Hymn: 364: “Away in a Manger”


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