Christmas Worship – Service Folder
First Lesson: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
Psalm of the Day: Psalm 98
Second Lesson: Hebrews 1:1-9
Gospel Lesson: John 1:1-14
Sermon Text: Hebrews 1:1-9
Welcome to worship today at Morrison Zion Lutheran Church. We exist to glorify God. We have set out to do this by gathering around the Gospel so that we may grow in the Gospel and go to others with this Gospel.
In Christ, dear fellow redeemed:
Did you ever play this game in grade school? After Christmas you come back to school and see all your friends. You get out at first recess, and all you spend the recess doing is talking about who got what gift and whose is better and why. You maybe inflate the gift you got a little bit so you win. I’m not saying I did that, but have you ever done it?
Okay, I did that. I enjoyed doing that. It was fun to go back and forth and banter. I kind of liked it, even as a little kid on the playground. But I did notice at times I’d catch myself exaggerating that my gift was better than theirs a little bit. I’m a sinner. We’re all sinners. We all do stupid stuff at times, don’t we?
I should have been smart enough to just trump any argument and just say “My gift is superior because I have Jesus. And your gift is superior because you have Jesus.” In reality, all the wrapping paper, all the sentimental memories, all the traditions, all of these things, when they’re at their best, they are pointing us to Jesus.
This is the incredible truth. This is the perfect truth. This is a gift that is so superior because it’s a gift you could never afford on your own. Isn’t that part of the thing that makes a great gift? When you go out and get someone something that you know they’ll never buy for themselves, and it gives you that joy because you give it to them because you know they won’t go do it.
I’m wearing new shoes. My wife took me to the store yesterday and made me buy them and said “This is your Christmas gift. You’re going to accept it and like it. Just be quiet,” because I don’t like spending money on new shoes. But today I have them because she knows I never would have gone and bought them myself. I wouldn’t want to do it. I might want forgiveness of sins. I couldn’t write that check.
What did it say in there? That Jesus, after he provided purification for sin, he sat down at the right hand of God. You might want purification for your sins, you might be desperate for purification for your sins when they keep you awake at night with the guilt of what you have done or how you have hurt someone with your words or whatever it might be, but you can’t do it. This is what makes Jesus the superior gift. He could. He is the One who made the world. He is the One that became a part of the world and redeemed the world, because you and I couldn’t do it.
God demands perfection of you and me. We can’t do it. Jesus came and did it. God says “the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23].” I don’t want that gift. Neither do you. But Jesus came and gave us that death. He provided purification for your sins. He washed them all away!
Nobody else could do that. Not even the angels. All those quotes from the Old Testament, the angels couldn’t do it. This gift is superior because it’s unique. It’s one-of-a-kind. No one else could possibly come close to giving us the things that Jesus has given us.
The challenge for us is to not get distracted by all the ways we celebrate Jesus’ birth and forget what we’re celebrating. We all have a little bit of that dog that goes “Squirrel!” in us. We get distracted by everything else and we forget it’s Jesus. This is the gift that is superior. This is the gift that makes anything worthwhile. The amazing thing is that he gives it to each one of us. The same amount. Equal, perfect love at all times. This is what he does. It’s amazing!
We tend to think of things as zero sum, that if we do this for this person, that’s less that we can do for that person, but God, he does everything perfect for each one of us. When we are struggling, when we are having difficulty getting through the holiday season, his love is just there for us. Are we going to turn to it? Are we going to look at it?
He’s given us the Spirit so that now we have that ability to turn toward God when we are filled with anxiety and worry and doubt and all these other things. We have that ability to turn toward God, now that the Spirit lives in us, when we’re feeling all the joy of Christmas, the joy of sins forgiven, and the joy of eternal life. Jesus went and sat down at the right hand of the majesty of God in heaven. You and I won’t get that seat, but we’ll get there some day, because this is what God has done for us. He’s given us this incredible gift.
Sometimes we struggle with wanting to make sure we don’t favor one child above another with a gift that we give. Think about it. God gave the absolute perfect gift to each and every one of us and gave it absolutely fully and absolutely perfectly. He gives us forgiveness through the life and death of Christ. He gives us the Spirit, who works faith in our hearts to believe this. Keep unwrapping that gift day after day after day. Amen.