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Christmas Eve – December 24, 2022

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Christmas Eve – December 24, 2022

On this night of Jesus’ birth, you get to hear a prophecy of that very birth, a prophecy pronounced even as the enemy was at the gates of Jerusalem. The very nation Ahaz was negotiating with threatened to overrun his city. Even though Ahaz in his duplicitousness refused to ask for a sign, nonetheless the Lord established the sign, a virgin shall give birth to a son with a most improbable name: Immanuel—God with us.

Theologians use two words to describe the nearness of God. When they speak of God far off, high in the heavens, distant from human matters and affairs, or hidden within the majestic mystery of the universe’s far reaches, theologians speak of God as transcendent. When they speak of God nearby, present in the lowliness of creation, closely involved in human matters and affairs, or revealed in his chosen instruments of Word and Sacrament, theologians speak of God as imminent. The Greeks had a god characterized by transcendence. The Hebrews had a God characterized by immanence. Luther would say of the God revealed through Scripture that “he comes down so far into creation that his skin smokes.” We know that this babe in the virgin’s arms would eventually grow to manhood… whose skin was ripped and torn by whip and thorn… whose extremities were nail-pierced… whose side was spear-riven… Yes, this Immanuel, God with us, comes so deep in our human matters and affairs that he dies the death we are to die. He knows the mortality that awaits each and every one of us. The transcendent God of creation’s wonder and beauty became imminent among us and knew humanity’s shame—that is, as he bore the sin of all humanity to the cross, he experienced humanity’s shame as well… the shame of executing the Son of God… the shame of killing, rejecting, the very sign God had given it.

So, on this night of carols and hymns… on this night of joyous sentiment… on this night of our dear Savior’s birth… on this night, celebrate the sign that is “God with us…” Celebrate now… but know the day will come when you, too, join the crowds shouting, “Crucify him!”

Table Talk: Discuss what it means to receive this sign… what it means to have “God with us!”

Pray: Heavenly Father, forgive my shame. Amen

Isaiah 7:10-14  English Standard Version

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13 And he said, Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.


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