There once was a boy named Tommy. Tommy was like most boys of the age 5, he like to run and play. He liked to get himself all dirty, especially in mud puddles after a nice rain. Tommy had two little dimples on his cheeks and when he smiled, they made him look just like an angel. But Tommy didn’t smile as much as he could for you see Tommy was lonely. Tommy lived in an orphanage because Tommy’s parents had been killed. The people in the orphanage like having Tommy around. They liked to see his dark hair flopping in the breeze as Tommy ran around the furniture and all over the house. These people loved Tommy very much, but Tommy knew that it wasn’t like having real parents of his very own. Tommy wanted parents that would love only him. One day while Tommy was playing dodge ball, and Tommy was pretty good at that, he was usually the last one out, in the court house down the street from the orphanage, court was in session. This session of the court was very important to Tommy even though Tommy knew nothing of what was taking place. Judge Johnson was holding court that day. Now Judge Johnson liked to make people happy if he could. He was a jolly man who was always smiling and finding good in people. In today’s court, the Judge was deciding if some people who saw Tommy at the orphanage could adopt him as there very own child. The judge was making a decision that would affect Tommy’s whole like from that moment on, and Tommy didn’t even know what was happening. Judge Johnson after hearing all the testimony decided that Tommy could have these people, this couple, as his parents. The Judge decided that these people had a lot of love in their hearts and they would share that love with Tommy. He felt they would be good parents Can you imagine how excited Tommy will be when these people come to the home and they tell him they are going to be Tommy’s new parents. Tommy will no longer have to be lonely, he will have parents to take care of him, to love him, and to be loved by Tommy. The judge made a decision that would affect Tommy forever. God made a decision that affects our whole lives in the same kind of way that Judge Johnson made his decision. It is that decision that all the world celebrates during this Christmas season. It is that decision that creates all the excitement, all the joy, all the happiness this time of year. God made a decision that affects our lives, a decision that without our consent, without our knowledge, without our approval. A decision was made that would affect our lives now and for the rest of eternity. That decision was for God to send his son to earth, for God to put skin on, so that we might have the opportunity to have eternal life. God made a decision out of love for us, out of love for the creation, God decided to come to earth, to walk among us, to be like one of us , so that we could see in a very real way how much he loves us.
God came as a child to this earth to be with all of society. God did not send us a book, a picture, a song, or an idea. He did not send us a sermon or even a friend. Instead, God came himself. He gave us his presence more than he gave us an explanation. He gave us his own life, death and resurrection. God understood the cries of the little one in this story: One night a small little voice was heard from the bedroom across the hall. “Daddy, I’m scared!” The response came quick: “Honey, don’t be afraid, daddy’s right across the hall.” After a very brief pause the little voice is heard again, “I’m still scared!” Again a response: “You don’t need to be afraid. God is watching over you.” This time the pause is longer … but the voice returns, “Daddy, I want someone with skin on!”
Jesus is God “with skin on.” God came to earth with skin on. He came as a child born in a manger, he came with skin on so we would know that he understood the human predicament of sin. He came with skin on so he could take away our sins and give us eternal life. God made a decision to do this without consulting us, without asking our permission, without us really having anything to say about the matter. God wanted our salvation to be in his hands, not ours. God decided that sending his son to earth having him walk among us, live with us, then die for our sins and rise on the third day, would be the only way that God the father could be reconciled with the children of his creation. So God decided to do this for us. God decided because he is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of compassion. God made this kind of decision because he knew that we could not by our own merits, our own works, and our own efforts make ourselves worthy in his eyes. God knew we could never live up to the perfection he wants, so he decided he would live up to that perfection himself, and then tell us that by believing in what he has done for us, we would be made right with him. This is the decision that we celebrate this Christmas season. Christmas just doesn’t end after Dec. 25th, but what happened during Christmas lives on and on. It lives in our memories, it, it lives as we see anew what this Christ child means for us. The Christmas spirit, the birth of Jesus lived on in us as we read about Simeon and Anna in our gospel lesson this morning. Christmas does not end with the day being over, but Christmas, and what it truly means lives on each day. The Christmas Spirit was revealed to Simeon and Anna. They saw something that nobody up to that time had seen. The shepherds, the religious ruler who heard rumors of his birth, didn’t really understand or see in this child the image of God. The only ones who recognized the Messiah in the man-child, God in Jesus, were Simeon and Anna. Simeon and Anna saw and they believed, they saw and worshiped, they saw and lived in that grace they experienced from that child, they saw and continued to serve God through others. These marvelous people are a fine example for us of how God continues to reveal himself. Simeon broke into a song when he saw the infant Jesus and by the power of the Spirit recognizing him as the one sent by God. In our communion service, we remember the promise of God’s light of salvation given to us in Christ Jesus.
Jesus is “the light to reveal God unto the nations” Thanks to electricity darkness is no longer seen as a problem-but of course it is. Because while candles may no longer be needed to push back the darkness so we can see our hymnals, we continue to need the light which they remind us of and point us toward-the light of Christ.
We need the light of Christ for our own sakes and for the sake of the world, because as has been the case since the Fall, humanity is living in dark times. There is a tendency among some to spend time and energy arguing as to why the world is a darker place today than ever before but really, such an exercise is useless because (at the risk of stating the obvious) sin is sin and dark is dark and what causes it matters less than the one Who brings light.
Simeon’s song reminds us that the revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the source of the light for our world. This light is totally and completely a gift from God. We can’t manufacture, invent or create this light for ourselves-and by this I mean that all plans, programs and processes we might come up with to drive back the darkness and make ourselves and the world a better place are fatally flawed-without the light of Christ.
We need this light for ourselves. “Lord now you let your servant go in peace, your word has been fulfilled”, is a request for God’s peace and a declaration that the one who has promised us forgiveness and salvation will keep it. This is something we need to do at the end of every day, in preparation for our last day.
There is much darkness pushing in on each of our lives. The darkness might be from without, the pressures and stresses of the world we live in. Or it might be from within, the worries, concerns, memories and regrets that assault our hearts and minds (often in the middle of the night) pushing us to leave the hope of Christ’s light for the despair of the darkness.
The light of a candle is a powerful symbol for the light of Christ in our lives. The candle’s flame doesn’t flood our surroundings with bright light for as far as we can see. No, it provides the light we need for what is closest to us, to help us see the next step, but not 20 ahead. So long as we are in this fallen world, there will be the darkness of sin trying to push in on us, but the light of Christ keeps it at bay, keeps it from paralyzing us in one place, allowing us to move forward on the journey God has called us to as his children. The light of Christ assures us that the promises of our baptism are the true; in stark contrast to the anxious and fear-filled lies whispered to us by the dark, the light of Christ bears witness to the certainty of first and last words God has spoken over our lives-words of salvation, light and life.
The light is important not just for us as individuals but for the world. For those who don’t know Jesus-his love, grace and forgiveness-they only know the darkness. Now of course for many of these people, they probably wouldn’t admit to this-in part because if darkness is all you have ever known, you assume that’s all there is. But there are also those who by the grace of God recognize that something is not right, but don’t know what else there is or what else to do. That’s where each of us as bearers of the light of Christ, and the church as the body of Christ come in. In the midst of great darkness even a small light is noticeable-and a group of lights together even more so. For anyone looking for it, the light of Jesus stands out as a beacon of hope. Of course there will always be those who prefer the darkness to the light, but that should in no way deter us from letting the light of Christ shine in our lives.
As disciples of Jesus we are called follow where God is leading us and let the light of Christ, the revelation of God’s mercy to the world, shine in and through us. As we confess our faith and place our trust in the love and mercy of Christ, we are bold to share and shine the light of Christ in all we do and say, trusting that those who are looking will see it and come to know He who Scripture calls the light of the world.
A simple candle can serve to remind us of these promises of Christ and the truth of his presence with us and in the world.
This message from Brad Everett and Tim Zingale is brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected] A Pass it On Project