Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634
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December 2017

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful!

If you happen to have a manger or a creche set at your home, chances are your set includes figurines of the Christ child, Mary, Joseph, some animals - donkeys, ox, sheep, camels, a few shepherds, the angels, and the wise men with their three gifts.

And while your manger scene may not be an exact replication of the actual events of Jesus' birth, there's something symbolic about the traditional figures of a creche set as to the story that they tell

The Christ child first and foremost assures us that the promised Messiah came as a humble baby to fulfill God's plan of salvation by dying on the cross, as the longed for Messiah, whom God first promised shortly after the fall in Genesis 3:15.

The virgin Mary reminds us that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and He went on to live a sinless life, even though He was tempted in all points just like we are, and thus able to offer up His sinless life as the acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of the world, exchanging His righteousness with our unrighteousness.

His step-father Joseph reminds us that through the Holy Spirit, we've been adopted into God's family through the Holy Spirit, that there is no Jew or Greek male or female, slave or free, all are one in Christ Jesus, and God is our Heavenly Father, whom we can call our Abba, meaning "daddy".

Joseph's carpentry trade points to the wooden cross whereupon Jesus would lay down His life, cursed with the world's sins, and that as believers in Christ, we are God's workmanship created for good works in Christ.

The animals remind us that one day paradise will be restored, and there will be perfect peace among all creatures, as even the most ferocious beasts (like lions) will live peacefully with the gentle animals (like lambs).

The angels remind us that there's more joy in heaven over a sinner that repents than 99 righteous persons who sees no need to repent, and that God uses these powerful beings to serve and protect: His people, as they carry out his Word on earth.

And one day we will be gathered together with the angels and archangels and all the company in heaven around the throne of God, lauding and magnifying God's Holy name!

The Shepherds reminds us of the Good Shepherd, who came that we might have life and that more abundantly, who would lay down His life for the sheep.

And, as his sheep we hear his voice as He speaks to us through the Gospel message, and WE! follow it, as we receive God's forgiveness won for us in Christ, and the Holy Spirits works in us both the will and the power to follow wherever our Good Shepherds leading, as He speaks to us through God's inspired Word.

And the sheep the shepherds are portrayed as bringing with them, reminds us of the Lamb of Goel who would take away the sins of the world.

The wise men of course came up to two years later after the birth of Christ, but nonetheless their remind us that Christ came for all people - no matter what their station in llfe.

And the star they followed that was prophesied by Balaam, as recorded in Numbers 24:;~5, assures us of God's guidance in our lives and that wise men and women still follow Him.

His word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and as God's people, we are to shine like Steil'S in the middle of a crooked and perverted people.

But, I propose there's something missing in the typical manger scene, and that is you and me.

And all the other faithful, who realize just what an indescribable gift God has given us in sending His only begotten Son to this world to suffer and die on the cross for our sins.

When the Savior was born there wasn't a lot of fanfare, but one day, Jesus will return to this earth as Lord of Lords and Kings of Kings to take all the faithful to heaven.

And this time, everyone will know of His coming - for the Son of Man will come like the lighting that flashes from the east to the west, and every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

And all the faithful will gather together, not around a baby born in a manger, but around the very throne of God - to worship the Lamb of God for all eternity.

In fact, I propose that it would be fitting to place a little mirror to your creche set to remind you that as you peer into the manger scene, that just as the faithful came to worship and adore the Savior, you are also included among the faithful.

As you ponder the meaning of the birth of the Savior and what He has done for your life and for your eternity.

Oh sure, the devil, the world and your own sinful flesh may have you question your faithfulness, if you really should be counted among the faithful, especially when you have to admit that you've been less than faithful and have sinned against God in thought, word, and deed, by what you have done and by what you have left undone.

But, here's the Good News of Christmas! Our Savior remains faithful even when you've been faithless, for He cannot disown Himself, and because of that, you can be assured that all of your sins can be forgiven as far as the east is from the west, and remembered no more, so that God looks upon you just as if you've never committed a single sin in your entire life.

As 1 John 1:8-9 reminds us, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves for the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

For as Gabriel announced to Mary, and an angel said to Joseph in a dream, their child would be caned Jesus, because He would save His people from their sins.

When I was a student at Breton Downs Elementary School in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, in addition to singing such "Holiday classics" as "Up on the Housetop Reindeer Claws", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", "Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer", and even the Hanukkah Song, "I Have a Little Dreidel", I can also recall singing the Christmas carol, "Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful", including a stanza in Latin.

In today's PC society, I highly doubt that this hymn is still sung at my elementary school alma mater these days, but looking back on things, I can't think of a more appropriate hymn to be sung by a class that not only consisted of students from various denominations --Catholics, Dutch Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Orthodox, and even a Missouri Synod Lutheran, like myself..

My classmates were also Jewish, Mormon, Unitarian, atheists, and many had no religious affiliation at all. For this hymn is in invitation for all to Come and worship the Savior of the Nations!,

No matter who you happen to be. No matter your family background or the faith in which you were raised. No matter your ethnicity or nationality. No matter what you've done or not done --

To join the faithful in beholding the King of angels, the One whom we confess in the Nicene Creed, is the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very' God of very God, begotten not made. Being in one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man ...

And join the angels along with the rest of the citizens in heaven above, in giving glory to God in the highest for the Word of the Father Now in flesh appearing.

And so ...

The Holy Spirit through the proclaimed Word of God being preached, sung, read, and proclaimed, is Inviting you personally to join the faithful in worshipping and adoring the Savior of the Nations this Advent/Christmas season and throughout the coming New Year, 2018!

To come and behold him with eyes of faith, not only this time of the year, but throughout your lifetime.

And one day you will have the same privilege ofthe Holy Family, the Shepherds, and the wise men,

For you will see the Savior of the nations, face to face, and He will say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your master!"

Venite adoremus Dominum!

(0 come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!)

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