Sermon for Christmas Eve Midnight – 12.24.22

+ Christmas Eve Midnight – December 24th, 2022 +

Series A: Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Christmas Cloths”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

We’ve all been there. Either when we were kids or, watching our own kids and grandchildren open presents…you finally get to that one gigantic, gorgeously wrapped present. You untie the bow, remove the ribbon, rip open the wrapping paper…and what’s inside? Oh…clothes. “Thanks,” you say, as you try, sometimes not so skillfully, to hide your disappointment.

 

Despite our childhood bias, clothing is an essential part of Christmas. I don’t mean the ugly sweater parties or the Christmas pajamas that grandma or Aunt Rita insist you try on. I mean the original Christmas clothing…the kind we hear that Mary used as Jesus’ first baby outfit…

 

She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.”

 

Mary does what mothers had done for centuries before her, and still do. She took cloths and swaddled the infant Jesus to protect, secure, and warm him who had just left the comfort of her womb. But there is more than a mother’s love being described in that little verse.

 

Think about it. Have you ever tried to wrapping or swaddling a baby? It’s rarely as easy as it is when you swaddle those practice dolls in the parenting classes. Babies move, wriggle, squirm, and will find any hole in your swaddling technique just to stretch out and move their infant arms. As Mary wraps Jesus in swaddling cloths, we behold with her the wonder and joy and mystery of the incarnation.

 

There in Mary’s arms. In the manger, a food trough, there is God in the flesh. God is a squiggling, squirming, wiggling baby born to save you. God incarnate for you. God is man, man to deliver. The Christ Child, wrapped in swaddling cloths is born to do for us what was done for him at his birth: to protect, secure, and comfort you – to wrap you in the arms of his mercy and give you rest in him.

 

That’s why, from beginning to end, Luke’s Gospel is a sacred wardrobe of Jesus’ saving work for us. Luke’s gospel begins and ends with Jesus being wrapped in clothing for us. Here at his birth, Mary took him from her arms, wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger. Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord! As Luke penned the Christmas story, he had Jesus’ death and resurrection in view. Already now, Jesus’ march to Jerusalem has begun; already at his birth, his cross, grave, and resurrection are on the horizon.

 

Thirty-three years later, at Jesus death, at the foot of the cross, after he cried out his final word: “It is finished!” Joseph of Arimathea came and took down Jesus’ body from the cross, held his savior and ours in his arms, wrapped him in a linen cloth, and laid Jesus in the tomb. And then, three days later, when Peter and John ran to the tomb, what did they discover instead? Not the body of Jesus. Only the linen cloths that had covered him. Their work, like our Lord’s done. All wrapped up. Folded. Christ’s saving work accomplished. Complete. All for you.

 

Jesus who was wrapped in swaddling cloths in his birth for us is once again wrapped in linen cloths as he was crucified, died, and buried for us. He laid aside those burial cloths and rose again for you. Jesus came to take the filthy rags of our sin that he might replace them with the robe of his righteousness that covers all your sin.

From Bethlehem we can see the saving work of Jesus on the horizon. Jerusalem. Jesus crucified on Good Friday. Jesus risen and empty tomb of Easter Sunday. It’s all in view as we hear Luke tell us that Mary wrapped Jesus in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.

 

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.” 

 

The angels sing “Glory to God in the highest,” but God and the peace he brings is found only in the Child wrapped in the swaddling cloths. Look not into the heavens, nor in the pages of man’s wisdom. Look into the face of Jesus. See your Savior. Your Redeemer. God in the flesh there in the cloths of his birth, death, burial, and resurrection for you.

 

In these cloths you will find a man, yes, but a man who is God, and God who is man. In these cloths you will find your Savior, Christ the Lord. In these cloths is swaddled the very God who sets the boundaries for the oceans and gives the planets their orbits. The Lord of all who upholds the universe by his word of power is held in the arms of Mary as he comes to save us all. The God who made animal skins to cover the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve is swaddled in cloths that he would take on our shame, guilt, and death.

 

He is wrapped in swaddling cloths so that by his wounds you may be healed. He is wrapped in swaddling cloths so that you may be freed from the snares of death. He is wrapped in swaddling cloths so that the bands of your sin are loosed forever.

 

And yet, even as we rejoice that Jesus was born for us, we remember that Jesus is no longer wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Jesus cannot be found in Bethlehem any more than he can be found in his tomb. The manger and his tomb are empty. But not his word or promise.

 

That is where you’ll find Jesus, where he has wraps himself for you, in the swaddling cloths of his holy word; in the water and word of your baptism where you are clothed with Christ and put on Christ; in the Lord’s Supper, where he wraps and robes his body and blood in the bread and wine for you.

 

Here, in these gifts, these holy, tangible signs, these swaddling cloths of water, words, bread and wine, here you will find your Savior who is Christ the Lord.

 

 

A blessed and Merry Christmas to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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Milton, WA 98354
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