Sermon for Christmas Eve – Lessons and Carols – 12.24.23

+ Christmas Eve: Service of Lessons and Carols – December 24th, 2023 +

Genesis 3:8-15; 17-19; Genesis 22:15-19; Isaiah 9:2-7; Isaiah 11:1-9; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-7; Luke 2:8-20; Matthew 2:1-12; John 1:1-14

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The Divine Drama”

 

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

 

Growing up our family would often spend Christmas with my grandparents in rural Missouri. One year I remember all of us loading up in the car and heading out on the winding country roads to their congregation, little Mt. Hulda Lutheran Church, where the church hosted an annual living nativity. As you drove off the blacktop and onto the gravel road that led to the church you saw the Christmas story unfold. Scene after scene, you felt like you were part of the divine drama of Christ’s birth.

 

Tonight, in Scripture and in song we are doing something similar. We witness the divine drama of Christ’s birth unfold, scene by scene, from the opening act in Genesis on down to the final act in the gospels. Tonight, on Christmas Eve, we retell and rejoice in the greatest drama ever staged. Tonight, we remember that the birth of Christ is the best of both worlds: Christmas is exciting, beautiful, dramatic…and it is true, historical, and real.

 

This is why the 20th century Christian author, Dorothy Sayers, was fond of saying that, “The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man – and the dogma is the drama.” (Letters to a Diminished Church, p. 1). Christian teaching – especially at Christmas – far from being dull or drab or boring – is exciting, joyful, and dramatic. Action packed. What could be more joyful and dramatic than the Son of God coming down, taking on our human flesh, being born of a lowly maiden, laid to rest in a feeding trough, wrapped in linen cloths all so that he could save you?

 

Unlike Shakespeare’s plays, the divine drama of Jesus’ birth, the story of salvation, isn’t a man-made story, but the story of how God became man to save you. Unlike fairytales created by our imagination, the story of Christmas did not happen in never-never land, or in a galaxy far, far away, or once upon a time. It happened in the days of Caesar Augustus, and when Quirinius was governor of Syria. A little town of Bethlehem became center stage for the greatest story ever told.

 

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,[b] 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

 

Tonight as we hear the Scriptures the divine drama unfolds. Tonight as we celebrate our Lord’s birth we celebrate the greatest drama ever staged. The true story of Jesus’ birth to save you.

 

Our story begins where many stories end, in tragedy. Just three chapters in, the curtain had hardly been raised for long it seems and disaster struck. The creation God declared very good turned very bad. The villain came in the form of a serpent and tempted Adam and Eve to follow his directions instead of God’s. And the man God formed from the dust of the earth spat in his face in rebellion. Then came the curse. Sin. Death.

 

By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.

 

And yet tragedy would not be the final word of this opening act in Scripture. No. God would make sure of that. God planted a seed of hope in the destruction of Eden. A promise. A child would be born of a woman. A child who would crush the serpent. A hero who would defeat the villain once and for all.

 

As the divine drama unfolds God gives an encore performance of his promise to Adam and Eve. In another great act of salvation, God promises Abraham that all the nations on the earth will be blessed through one of his offspring. Although Isaac is a promised son, he is not yet the promised son. Isaac is spared so that the promised son, the Son of God, would be born to be the sacrifice for all. On Moriah, God provided a ram for the sacrifice instead of Isaac. This was a dress rehearsal for another mountain and another beloved Son. On Mt. Calvary, God would finally provide the sacrifice all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed towards, the Son of God in human flesh.

 

As time went on, the Acts of God’s divine drama of salvation continued to unfold. Isaiah captures the drama beautifully, with words of comfort and joy:

 

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon[d] his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called[e]
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

After Isaiah God’s prophets come and go, enter stage right, exit stage left. The kings rise and fall. Israel went there and back again, from exile back home. And all the while, throughout the years, God was in the details, like a set crew behind the scenes preparing for the final act to arrive, for opening night, when, wonder of all wonders, the author himself would step foot onto the stage. When the divine playwright would write himself into the script, when the Creator of the divine drama became a creature…when God became man and entered our story and history.

 

It happens not in the royal halls or auditoriums of Jerusalem, but in a little amphitheater in the hills outside of Bethlehem, to lowly shepherds watching their flock by night. The angel sets the scene with glorious good news…

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!”

 

This is the greatest drama ever staged. God comes in humility to save us from our pride. The sinless for the sinner. The innocent for the guilty. The Son of God comes to save us sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. God comes in lowliness of the manger and dies lifted up on the lowly cross to save us from death and the grave. God becomes a child so that you would become children of God.

 

Tonight, the divine drama is not only the story of Jesus’ birth. It is your story too. Christmas is the dramatic and exciting and comforting story of your salvation, for it is true. You are part of the Christmas story because that first Christmas, Christ Jesus set foot on the stage, he entered history in a dramatic, humble, yet glorious way…as God in the flesh to save you.

 

Tonight, our story that began in tragedy, ends in joy. The curtain closes on our sin and death. God’s final act begins in Bethlehem and ends in Jerusalem…from his newborn manger to new life won for us on the cross. The drama of history that began with death, now through Jesus’ birth and death, is the true story of life now and forever.

 

Tonight, like little children in a Christmas pageant, our Lord invites us to join the prophets, angels and shepherds, in hearing, singing, and sharing the joyous dramatic good news:

 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

 

“Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

 

A blessed 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.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977