The Time Has Come

In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

Christmas Continues

 

In case you didn’t remember, today is the 7TH Day of Christmas. The world thinks that the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas Day. Some people have already taken down their Christmas decorations.

 

In the church, the days before Christmas Day are spent in the season of Advent. We occupy our hearts and minds thinking about the coming of Christ – the remembrance of his birth, his promise to come again, and his coming to us in his Word and Sacraments. We light blue candles, one each week to mark a time of waiting.

 

For us the Christmas Season begins on Christmas Day and lasts for 12 days. It ends on January 6TH the Day of the Epiphany when we remember the coming of the Wise Men to worship the new born king. It’s unfortunate that so many people heard the Christmas story in Luke chapter two and have closed out the miracle of Christmas for another year.

 

Marking of Time

 

On Christmas we light the white candle in the middle of the Advent Wreath and keep it lit for services during the 12 day Christmas Season. Usually I remove the blue candles during the Christmas Season but this year I have left them up and lit because they so nicely reflect today’s reading from Galatians chapter four.

 

Saint Paul wrote, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Gal. 4:4 The surrounding candles on the Christmas Wreath signify that the fullness of time had come. The center Christ candle states that God did indeed send forth his Son when the time was right.

 

 

 

Clothed In Righteousness

 

The time had come when the words of Isaiah would be fulfilled. A baby was born of a woman and born under the law. The child was wrapped in humble cloths in order to clothe us in splendor. We rejoice during the Christmas Season because we needed a savior who would come to cloth us with garments of salvation and cover us with the robe of righteousness.

 

Isaiah describes us without this child in our life, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” We cloth ourselves with filthy rages of sin. Without the coming of this child we are not fit to stand before the Lord.

 

Under The Law

 

We are under the law and we fail to keep it. From the day of our birth to the day of our death we fall short of fulling the law. The law requires perfection and we are less than perfect keepers of the law. We are under the curse of the law which means that breaking the law separates us from being God’s beloved children.

 

Because we are totally unable to keep the law as God demands, “God sent forth his Son . . . born under the law.” This child did not come to show the world that it was possible for a human being to fulfill the law. He did not come to make the law easier or soften its requirements in some way.

 

The One through whom all things were created placed himself under the law in order to fulfill the law for us. He came to obey the will of his heavenly Father in our place. The Son of God came to redeem us, to pay the price for our sinful lives. He came so that we could be called children of the heavenly Father.

 

We might think that exceptions would be made for this child. After all, the angel had said to Mary, “he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.”   But no angel came to announce that Jesus was exempt from the law. Jesus was place completely under that law. Jesus himself said, “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.

 

The whole weight of the Law fell on Jesus and he fulfilled it. Literally, Jesus placed himself under his own Law so that we might be freed from the curse of the Law. When Jesus was circumcised, the Law of circumcision was fulfilled.  When Jesus was consecrated in the temple the Law of the first-born was fulfilled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Law Required It

 

Luke tells us that on the fortieth day of his life Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem to be consecrated to the Lord. It was part of the law. Every first-born child had to be dedicated to the Lord. God’s commandment was that every first-born child belonged to him. Jesus was presented to the Lord so that we could belong to the Lord.

 

While they were at the temple two people, Simeon and Anna were also there. We read that Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. He was waiting for the promised Messiah to come and to bring comfort and peace to all those who were waiting for a Savior from their sins.

 

Anna too was waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. She was waiting for the One who would redeem all God’s people from sin and death and Satan. What a gift God gave these two people. They saw the One who had come to redeem his people, to comfort them, and to give them peace.

 

Simeon’s Words

 

Luke records the words that Simeon spoke about this child. Through out the ages the church has use Simeon’s words and made them our own:

 

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to people Israel.”

 

The child Jesus that Simeon held in his arms was and is God’s salvation in human flesh who shows to people outside the church God’s mercy and grace. Jesus shines a light in a world darkened by sin; he shows that he alone is the way out of darkness into the marvelous light of forgiveness and salvation.

 

To us in the church God reveals to us that he sent his Son into this world to save us from our sins as well. Think about it for a moment, Jesus has revealed to you that the heavenly Father sent his Son into the world to be nailed to a cross for you.

 

This child came to bring you peace each day as you know your sins are forgiven, peace so that the trials and hardships of life do not overcome you, and peace as you face death.

 

The Spirit For Us

 

On this 7TH day of Christmas, the One who loves us b rings us the same gift that he gave to Simeon and Anna those many years ago. Jesus has sent us his Holy Spirit to show us what Simeon and Anna saw.

 

The Holy Spirit clears away all the clutter that the world tells us will bring us peace. Jesus’ Spirit humbles us so that we do not look to ourselves in order to gain true peace. The Holy Spirit is here today working in our hearts and minds so that we recognize the baby born in Bethlehem as our Savior.

 

The Spirit is working as we receive the very body and blood of Jesus Christ to assure us that our sins are taken away so that we can be at peace. The Spirit reminds us today that when we were baptized we became children of the heavenly Father.

 

The peace of Jesus Christ be with you today, tomorrow, and into eternity. Amen.

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