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Christmas Eve 2020
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
December 24, 2020
Various Lessons

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            2020 has been quite a year.  One year ago who would have thought that now you would be sitting here socially-distanced, wearing a mask or having one close at hand?  Who could have imagined that many would be sitting home watching Christmas Eve service on YouTube; infected, quarantining, isolating?  The world has been overwhelmed by an invisible virus.

The world is broken and our instinct is to fix it. We do not like the feeling of being helpless.  We have to do something…anything.  Politicians try making this new rule and that to try to control the virus.  Money is thrown at the problem.  We try to fix things, but despite our best efforts this virus is still causing no end of trouble all over the earth.  Two weeks to slow the spread has turned into a year. Vaccines are bringing some hope on the horizon but it remains a very difficult time. 

            Now, as bad as this pandemic is, it did not break the world, it only clarified the truth that we live in a broken world.  COVID19 reminds us that we are not in control.  This year in the United States there have been over 300,000 deaths related to the pandemic, but in a normal year there are almost three million deaths from many different causes, plus another 800,000 deaths from abortion. That people are dying of COVID19 is tragic, but death is nothing new in 2020.  You walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  The world is broken.

            The world broke, and sickness and death flooded in when Adam and Eve listened to the lies of the Prince of Darkness and sought to be like God. His first lie is still one of His favorites, “Did God actually say?”  Genesis 3:1-4 (ESV) 1 … “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.[1] 

Our first parents believed the devil’s lies.  They were one with God but then their rebellion broke that relationship.  And now all people, the offspring of Adam and Eve, are by nature, spiritually blind, dead and enemies of God. 

            There is so much brokenness in the world…so much darkness.  So much disease, injury, violence, starvation, warfare, and poverty.  The powerful abuse the weak.  Families are torn apart by lust and strife.  Children are exploited for profit.  Death separates you from your loved ones.  The darkness of this world is oppressive and this virus reminds you how helpless you are against the brokenness.

            This year there has been a dramatic yearning for Christmas.  There is a longing for hope in the darkness of despair, peace in the chaos of the pandemic, joy in the midst of the sorrow of sickness and death, and love in times of division and struggle.  This year folks were more anxious than ever to put up the tree and decorate the house and try to find some hope, peace, joy and love in Christmas.  There is desire for some kind of contentment in the familiarity of Christmas.  Because…the world is broken.  Because…you need a savior. 

            This unexpected savior’s birth is not announced to kings.  It is not proclaimed to the rich and powerful.  It is not heralded at the temple to the religious leaders.  The birth of this unexpected savior is announced to rough and tumble working men on the night shift watching sheep out in the fields.

            You need a savior.  You are looking for a hero to save you from the brokenness of the world and the brokenness in you.  You want someone to come and make it all better.  You need someone with the right connections to make things happen.  You need a mover and shaker to get things done. And so you come here tonight in the midst of brokenness looking for savior.  You have come to the right place. 

            What kind of glorious, powerful, connected, awesome champion do you find tonight?  As you dig through the lights and garland and trees and presents and songs and food and all the trappings of the season you find the savior.  But you find that the savior is a seeming nobody.  He is just a poor, Jewish, newborn boy wrapped in rags lying in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem six miles away from the important city of Jerusalem.  What kind of savior is this?  He is not glorious.  He is not powerful.  He is not politically connected.  He is not awesome.  He is not a champion.  He is a helpless little baby who needs His mother.  This is not the savior that you expect.

            This unexpected savior’s birth is not announced to kings.  It is not proclaimed to the rich and powerful.  It is not heralded at the temple to the religious leaders.  The birth of this unexpected savior is announced to rough and tumble working men on the night shift watching sheep out in the fields.

            The others with Mary and Joseph at the birth of their baby boy just see a normal baby.  They are confused when these shepherds come and tell them about angels announcing to them Luke 2:11 (ESV) 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.[2] They wonder at this, but Mary, the mother, has been told the truth about this baby by the angel Gabriel, and she treasures the shepherds’ words in her heart. 

This unremarkable little baby is the savior of the world.  The unexpected Savior does things in unexpected ways.  He quietly grows to be a man in a backwater hill town and then be baptized into your sin and carry that sin to a Roman cross in Jerusalem where He is beaten and pierced and killed for your brokenness and the brokenness of the world.  He enters death to destroy death.  He is laid in a tomb to sanctify the graves of all those who believe in Him.  He rises from the dead to declare victory over death and the grave.  He is the unexpected savior. 

Still today He is the unexpected savior forgiving in unexpected ways.  In the simple water and Word of baptism Jesus gives you eternal life in the Heavenly City where He will be the light.  He continues to deliver forgiveness to you in His Word, and in His Body and Blood in the bread and wine.  He is the humble servant king who calls you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. 

            This is one of the proofs for me that Christianity is true.  This is not the kind of God someone would invent.  A God who comes to earth as a helpless infant. A God who quietly preaches and teaches and feeds and heals the lowly people of society.  A God who rebukes the religious leaders and eats with the outcasts. A God whose greatest glory is suffering in humiliation on a cruel cross.  A God who enters into the brokenness of the world to bring reconciliation with God the Father.  A God who does not solve every problem of the world — not yet — but solves the biggest problem.  A God who gives His life as ransom to forgive the sin that separates you from God.  A God who, in water, word, bread and wine, restores your relationship with the Creator that was broken in the Garden of Eden.   

            You come tonight looking for a savior in this broken world.  Your savior is come.  Your savior unexpectedly comes to you in the flesh of that little Jewish boy lying in a manger in Bethlehem.  He comes to ordinary people in ordinary places.  He comes to save sinners like you and me.  He comes as the Holy Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He comes as Immanuel, God with us, who offers Himself as the sacrifice to save you.  He promises to come again on the Last Day to fully undo the brokenness of the world.  He will abolish pandemics and sickness and death and evil forever and raise the dead in Christ to live with Him in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem for eternity.  In Jesus you find the hope, the peace, the joy and the love you seek.  Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. 

            Merry Christmas.

            Amen. 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[2]  The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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