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Epistle: Hebrews 10:5-10

5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body you have prepared for me;

6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.

7Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’

(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”

8When he said above,

“You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices

and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings”

(these are offered according to the law),

9then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.”

He abolishes the first in order to establish the second.

10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified

through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The PLAN for God’s actions are set into motion on Christmas, but it is just the beginning, and is fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The good news is that God sent his son down to the earth so to fulfill this plan.

Under our Christmas tree is a Nativity Scene that we have had for decades. Next to the set is an Advent ladder that was given to us as a gift when we were on internship over 30 years ago. The ladder came with a creepy-looking elf (which now adorns our son’s tree) that would climb UP the ladder each day in December until the last day when the elf would end up on the tree.

We decided to change things up a bit, and instead of an elf ascending, we have baby Jesus descending. A bit sacrilegious to have a twist tie securing Jesus to the ladder, but it’s the best we could do. Jesus descends the days of December until he ends up in the manger on Christmas Day.

From the Christmas Hymn “Once in Royal David’s City” we hear these words:

He came down to earth from heaven, Who is God and Lord of all, And His shelter was a stable, And His cradle was a stall; With the poor, and mean, and lowly, Lived on earth our Savior holy.

While Christmas is a wonderful celebration, there would be no Christmas if there were no Easter. A baby born in a stable, with some shepherds talking about some angels, a few astronomers from far away, and a young girl, her husband to be, and the animals. It is a beautiful scene, but it means absolutely nothing to us some two thousand years later, if there is no Easter.

He grew to be a man, and preached a message of love, of forgiveness, of hope. But the message means nothing to us some two thousand years later, if there is no Easter.

He challenged the leaders of his day with a new kind of King, a King who serves, instead of demanding service. For his radical words and life, he was put to death on a cross. But his service and his death means nothing to us some two thousand years later if there is no Easter.

Yes, for on Easter, this child born in a manger, this preacher, this radical teacher, this one crucified, rose from the dead. He is victorious over sin and death. He is our savior. He is the Messiah, the Son of God, he is our Lord. He gives us life. Martin Luther said, “Jesus, our Savior, was born in a manger. Above the manger looms a cross where he gave his life that we might live in him and with him in eternity.”

Do we ever stop to wonder how incredible this event is? Prophets, priests, and kings have been looking forward to it for generations. A whole people have longed for the coming of the day of the Lord. And how does it come?

Incredibly, through the promise to a very ordinary girl, just barely a teenager, in a very ordinary, out of the way place. How odd that God should choose this woman, this place, this time. But that is how God works. And it is the very surprise of it that makes us sing for joy this Christmas season.

Sometimes we forget that Jesus, the Son of God, was also the son of Mary. Because of that, Jesus did some things that God cannot do. Jesus was born. He grew up. He died. Because Jesus, the son of Mary, was human, he rejoiced at a wedding. He wept at the death of a friend. He was misunderstood. He suffered mental and emotional anguish. He experienced physical pain. He felt abandoned by God.

Because of His Son who came to the earth, we know that the “Most High God” not only knows but has experienced everything we experience. We also live with the hope and expectation that as the son of Mary — a human like us — has died and was raised from death, we, too, can expect to follow where he has led the way! For an angel spoke and a young woman believed.

And in that point in time, the world was forever changed. What a wonderful gift. Impossible? No for nothing will be impossible with God.

A recording of “Once In Royal David’s City” is found here.

Here are ALL the lyrics

Once in Royal David's City

Cecil Frances Alexander, Henry Gauntlett

Once in royal David's city Stood a lowly cattle shed, Where a mother laid her Baby In a manger for His bed: Mary was that mother mild, Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven, Who is God and Lord of all, And His shelter was a stable, And His cradle was a stall; With the poor, and mean, and lowly, Lived on earth our Savior holy.

And our eyes at last shall see Him, Through His own redeeming love; For that Child so dear and gentle Is our Lord in heaven above, And He leads His children on To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable, With the oxen standing by, We shall see Him; but in heaven, Set at God's right hand on high; When like stars His children crowned All in white shall wait around.

Let us Pray. We await the birth of Your Son once again. Thank you for coming to us, so that we might be forever with You. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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