Merry Christmas to you and your family!
I wanted to take a quick moment to interrupt your morning festivities by sharing a few potent sentences from a Christmas Day sermon given by Martin Luther in 1531. He wrote, and subsequently preached:
“The world is happy and of good cheer when it has loaves and fishes, means and money, power and glory. But a sad and troubled heart desires nothing but peace and comfort, that it may know whether God is graciously inclined toward it. And this joy, wherein a troubled heart finds peace and rest, is so great that all the world’s happiness is nothing in comparison.” (W.A. 34. 11. 505.)
Luther’s words demonstrate a firm grasp on the meaning of our Lord’s arrival at Christmas. Within a relatively short span, he describes how the world sees Christmas as little more than a passing opportunity for happiness born from selfish indulgence. Not much has changed in the last five hundred years. The world still takes comfort in transient things—food, money, earthly authority and the prestige that accompanies it, and so many other trappings. It does this forgetting that all of it has an expiration date. In contrast, Christians know that when it comes to meeting the challenges faced by an honest heart cognizant of its eternal predicament and its absolute inability to do anything to change it, something more than what the world can give is needed.
Christmas is the first movement of the divine “something” put in place to meet the need.
The birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is God taking aim at Mankind’s deepest need in preparation for pulling the Good Friday trigger. And when this ferocious need is finally met on Calvary’s cross—when Sin, Death, and the devil are taken down once and for all by the provision of God’s Son—for whoever believes this, Luther describes the eruption of an otherworldly joy that simply cannot be outclassed by anything the world might think to offer in trade.
A troubled heart will never know more peace than what the Gospel gives. Money can’t surpass it. Power cannot compare. Not even a life of glorious ease will ever come close to the rest God promises that lasts through and into eternity.
As it meets with this wonderful Gospel, my prayer for you this morning is two-fold. Firstly, I hope as you are opening gifts you will remember the temporary nature of such things, and as such, will know to give thanks to the One who has given you the greatest gift this world could ever know. Secondly, I hope you’ll be moved to interrupt the temporal moment of gift-exchanging in order to join with your brothers and sisters in Christ in an eternal moment—holy worship—meant for receiving the merits of the greatest gift given.
The Lord bless and keep you.
And again, Merry Christmas.