Let us pray: Dear Savior, everything You touch is perfect, fresh, new, and alive. That’s because You are the perfect Lord of Life! You are the Son of God come to save us! Tonight touch our hearts with the truth of Your birth and thereby put Your perfect love within us once again! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM GOD’S SON IN THE FLESH!
TEXT: Luke 2: 1-20
Dearly Beloved By the Blessed Christ Child:
“And behold, it was very good!” Those words are repeated over and over again in Genesis, describing and defining God’s perfect creation of the universe. They also can be used to describe the birth of Christ. For when God gets directly involved in something, anything, it is always “just right” and never needs a “do over.”
That’s a far cry from us, isn’t it? No cook, if their honest, is ever totally satisfied that they created the “perfect meal.” If the steak is just right, the vegetables might need 30 seconds longer, or the salad dressing is too tangy, or the cheesecake could use a touch more lemon zest. No housekeeper ever has the “perfectly clean home” either. For as soon as you’re “done” the kids, dog, or spouse will track in some dirt or put dirty dishes in the sink. No gardener is ever “done” with their efforts. Things always grow, plants are always lopsided, and weeds, well, they sprout overnight. I’ve preached over 2000 sermons in my ministry and only a few come close to being “just right.” But none were. As I replayed them in my mind, there was always an emphasis here or a word there that I’d like to do over. Everything people touch could use a “do over.” But everything God directly touches never does.
Christmas has a timelessness about it. Why? Because, quoting those words from Genesis: “Behold, it was very good.” Every detail was perfectly planned and executed. Every action and reaction was exactly how God intended it to be. Caesar Augustus didn’t know much, if anything, about the Jewish God or their prophetic Messiah. And yet, God used him to initiate the census that would bring all these diverse events and people into play in order to perfectly fulfill the Messiah’s birth. Mary and Joseph had already heard the angel’s message to them and believed it. And yet, they did not know exactly how it would all happen. They didn’t know Bethlehem would be “full up” and they would have to lodge in a stable. No father or mother would dream about having a baby with animals present and laying Him in a manger. When the labor pains came on, don’t you think they were frustrated that they had nothing better to offer their Son?
The shepherds began that night following their usual “hum-drum” routine. If they had known what would occur—God’s angels coming to them—don’t you think they would have worn better clothes and been more awake? And years later, they were all probably a bit “sheepish” over being terrified when the angels appeared. Then, as they hurried to the manger they saw the holy family. After that, they went out and told others what had occurred. Some of those shepherds probably lived another 33 years and heard of or perhaps even saw Christ’s death and resurrection. Knowing what they did, don’t you think they second-guessed themselves and wished they had told more people on that first Christmas Eve? We humans have an inner need for perfectionism. Why? Because it harkens back to God’s perfect creation of us, He instilled in us that longing. But since were imperfect sinners, whatever we touch is never “just right.” So, we live with our regrets.
The truth of Christmas is timeless and always will be timeless because it is all about God doing for us and not about us doing for God. Everything connected with Christmas was in God’s perfect and loving hands. Our God is not defined by the strict demeanor of a perfectionist-driven taskmaster. No, He is defined by perfect, humble, love. He is defined by forgiveness.—Giving us His good things before we even know enough to ask for them!
God knew all about human regrets. He knew immediately after Adam and Eve’s fall into sin that they desperately wished for a “do over.” He knows all about the frustrating shame we feel in life because we fail to measure up to His perfect standards. So, at Christmas God did all the giving and we did all the receiving. He engineered a humble birth for His Son. He engineered His “goodness and mercy” to be given to us in and through that Son. He engineered the joy everyone felt at being told: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you! He is Christ the Lord.”
Tonight, we gaze across the eons of time into that manger once again. And this timeless truth smacks right into our hearts: “And behold, it was very good!” It could not have been more poignant or more touching. Everything connected with the birth of God’s Son was perfect; totally fitting the perfect Babe Who came to save us.
But what about tonight, tomorrow, and the days thereafter? Will God’s timeless perfection and forgiveness still rebirth our lives?—Yes! For remember: everything God directly touches is: very good. So, when you hear the Gospel, the message of salvation from and about the Word made flesh, when you are given that gospel in baptism, and when you eat and drink it in Holy Communion, His perfect love is once more bestowed upon you. And the Baby Jesus thereby continues to reign in His kingdom of your humble heart!
In the coming weeks, whenever you feel the need for a “do over” go back to the manger; go back to the Gospel, and receive His perfect love which always remakes the heart. It cannot do otherwise because everything God touches is: very good! Christmas proves it. Amen