Sermon for Christmas Eve Midnight – 12.24.23

+ The Nativity of Our Lord – Christmas Eve – December 24th, 2023 +

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

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The Battle of Bethlehem”

 

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

 

Bill Murray’s Christmas movie, Scrooged, begins with a fictional movie trailer for a Christmas special, “The Night the Reindeer Died.” The whole scene is intentionally over the top. It’s beyond ludicrous speed. Mrs. Claus opens an armory. Santa shoulder a M-16. Lee Majors even shows up with a gatling gun.

 

Absurd?…absolutely. And yet… there’s a grain of truth hidden in all of that ridiculousness. That first Christmas may or may not have been a silent night…but it certainly was a violent night.

 

When we think of Christmas we think of milk and cookies, of peace on earth, and good will toward men. But we do well to remember that Christmas is a declaration of war.

 

Beneath the swaddled clothes and straw of the manger, a cosmic battle is raging. In Bethlehem, though unseen by human eyes, hell and heaven battled over us. For there in the feeding trough rests the one who has come to set us free from sin, from our ancient foe, the dragon, and from death.

 

“From God’s viewpoint—and Satan’s—Christmas signals far more than the birth of a baby; it was an invasion, the decisive advance in the great struggle for the cosmos.” (Philip Yancey).

 

Isaiah foretold the battle of Bethlehem ages ago.

 

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.

 For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
    and every garment rolled in blood
    will be burned as fuel for the fire.

 

That’s battle language. Like Gideon of old and the armies of Midian, Christ, our Greater Gideon is preparing for war. To break the brokenness of sin and death and the devil. The Messiah is on a mission. It’s a covert operation though. The Creator becomes a creature. The King of kings kicks his infant legs. The Lord of lords is born a little child. God marshals his glory and strength and power and wraps it in Humility. Humanity. The word made flesh.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given

 

Christmas is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. Christ was born in enemy territory. In the womb of Mary he snuck behind the enemy’s lines into this fallen world. Christ the king has come to claim his rightful throne and rescue you, his beloved.

 

 

Bethlehem is his beachhead. The stable is a sanctuary…but also a fortress. In the manger the Almighty God musters himself for battle. The Lord of hosts is armored in swaddling clothes. When infant Jesus draws his first breath, the depths of hell trembled.

 

It all began in Bethlehem. Heaven and hell contended on that holy night. Christ was born into a violent, ungodly world – a world where power and wickedness ruled with a clenched, iron fist. It would seem that not much has changed…that the war drums of sin and death roll on. Our world is broken and so are we. Daily, we fall. We lose the fight. We are overrun and outflanked by temptation, guilt, shame, sin and the lies of the ancient foe, the dragon. His fiery breath breathes out lies and we believe him: give up…all is lost…there’s no one here to rescue you.

 

Christmas is a reminder that this is but the last gasp of a dying, defeated enemy. Christmas marks the genesis of war, a war to set you free. Christ has invaded our world. Hell and sin and death quake and shutter at his birth. For the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light. On you, who live in the land of deep darkness, on you the light of the world shines this night.

 

It is certainly true that Christ is born to bring salvation. To atone for your sins. To rescue us from death. To bring us into God’s family through adoption by grace. And yet he does all these things by conquering sin and death on the cross, where he himself is conquered. But as a victim he wins the victory.

 

Over the hills of Bethlehem, the angel announced the good news. A shout of victory that echoes throughout history.

 

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. 

 

The angel armies advance and welcome their commander in chief with a war cry that fills the night skies.

 

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

 

The shepherds rally to the banner of their newborn King. The captain of our salvation is born to save you. The Liberator has set you free from sin and death. Christ has come to conquer the serpent and reigns forever. And in Christ there is peace. Goodwill. There is joy. In Christ you are also provisioned. He provides the training for your life in the battle that rages and yet is already won. 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.

 

So tonight…come to the victory feast at his table. Rejoice! Eat his body. Drink his blood. And be merry, for your sins are forgiven. Rejoice! Christ came. He saw. He conquered sin and death and the serpent for you. Christ is born and evil is vanquished. Christ is born and the darkness is scattered. Christ is born and your life is in Him.

 

Merry Christmas! The ancient foe is dead. Christ is born for you. And his victory has set you free.

 

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