Why is this Child who was born so important? Why gather to celebrate His coming? Is it because He is God? Is that what makes this Child so important? I hardly think that is it, for God is most surely important for the simple reason that He is God. God, by definition and necessity, is important, or else He is not God. So why is this Child so important? Why gather? Why sing? Why dress our sanctuary in white? Why? We will have benefited little from our celebrations without that answer.
This Child is God, but that is not why He is so important. This Child is important because He is God made Man for us. God did not need to become a Child to deserve our attention; God chose to become a Child to get our attention. He wants us to know the dangers that face us and He wants us to know how He feels about us.
What dangers face us? Watch the Child. He faces hatred, temptation, betrayal, persecution, death, and hell in the days to come. He has come to face those dangers with us and for us, so that He might sympathize with us in them and save us from them. He was born in the shadow of the cross, as our nativity scene above the altar shows. In Him and with Him, we can face the dangers before us and overcome them. Without Him, we are overcome. The first option, that we overcome in Him, is what God wants more than anything else. The second option, that we are overcome by everything that would drag us down to hell, plainly or subtly, is what the sinful nature wants more than anything else. Overcome, my friends. Overcome in and by this Child.
He has come to reveal how God feels about us, and yes, I mean us, every one of us. The angels came to shepherds in fields, not millionaires in mansions. The star led the Magi to the little town of Bethlehem, and not the political and religious center of Jerusalem. No one is too small or unimportant for this Child. Rather, this small and seemingly unimportant Child has come because the small and unimportant are important to Him.
How does God feel about us? How can we even ask? He has loved us with an everlasting love by giving us His everlasting Son as our Brother in the flesh. God loves us. Believe it, though doubts may assail you. Believe, because there is nothing more worthy of our faith than God, and God is this Child, and this Child is God, not to deserve our attention, not even to deserve our love, for He already deserves these things, but because God is determined to win our attention and love, which we so easily withhold from Him, to capture it, to leave us no other choice but to marvel and listen and learn and love because He has loved us so much.
God loves you. The Virgin Mary believed it, Joseph believed it, the shepherds believed it, the angels believed it, and that is why they gathered around this manger. This is your Bethlehem. Here is your manger, where your Savior lies and your soul rests. in Word and Sacrament. Here, in the gospel, is your long-promised Redeemer, now lovingly held in Mary’s arms, later cruelly held to your cross with arms outstretched. Don’t let anything keep you from this Child. Plod through every doubt, deception, and distraction to see Him, He Himself dragging you along, tiny though He now appears. He is here, with us.
This is a season of presents. We give presents as a reminder of the Present we’ve been given. Remember that the greatest present has already been opened. He was wrapped in swaddling clothes. He was wrapped in a tomb. He grew out of one and walked out of another. Believe it, and your Christmas will count for something more than manufactured memories this year. St. Augustine said it best: “Christ is not valued at all, unless He is valued above all.” This Child is not only important; He is what’s most important, and He is Yours. That’s our song and joy this season and always. He’s not only God. He is more than God. He is God made Man, for us.
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You can listen to our Christmas episode here.