Sermon for Sunday 01-02-2022
The Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Psalm 8; Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:15-21
Our psalm describes God’s created world eloquently and testifies to its Maker’s grandeur. From the starry universe on high to the small children, everything speaks of the Creator’s wisdom and resourcefulness. Beloved as we learn more about the universe, we can have the same confidence as the ancient Hebrew poet. Our world is so constructed that cooperation with its Creator and His revealed truth leads us to fulfillment in life. God continues to give seemingly insignificant humans life. God continues to give seemingly insignificant humans unbelievable controlling power over His creation. Recently, the telescope that will make the Hubble telescope almost obsolete, was launched and is on its way to deep, deep space, so we can learn even more about the universe God created and we will know even more than we’ve ever known about the beginning of the universe. God wants us to know Him and His creation and this is why our exploration is so very important than ever before.
In the lesson from Numbers, we see the “priestly blessing” that God directed Moses to give to Aaron became known as the “Arronic blessing” and it was: “The Lord bless you and keep your; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” This blessing is effective because it originated at God’s initiative. This invocation does not invoke an outward blessing of material goods or circumstances, but inward blessings. The blessing was God Himself. The prayer of blessing in formal worship assures the people of God’s involvement in daily life, work, and family.
The lesson from Galatians is especially important for all of us to understand and remember. Why? Because as God’s creatures and as sinners purchased back by Him, we deserve only to be His slaves without personal freedom, for it is in His grace that He has made us His adopted sons and daughters with full inheritance rights and full freedom. The Spirit leads us to know God as our “father” and as the Father sent the Spirit of his Son, into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ We may be called the sons and daughters of God only by His grace. He adopted us, not because of our merit but because of His desire to make for Himself a people, His people. Like a true Father, I call out to Him Abba, Father, for He is.
Our Gospel lesson from Luke is significant. The angels welcomed Christ’s birth with praise to God and a blessing calling for peace to all those committed to God’s grace. Peace will never result from good human intentions. God inaugurated peace by sending Jesus to Mary in Bethlehem. Only persons dedicated to praising Him can be instruments of peace, for He is the only source of peace.
The Angels appeared to the shepherds in the fields, and they immediately got up to go into Bethlehem to see for themselves the Christ child, and they went away sharing the grand event. It should be no different with Christians today. The natural reaction to Christ is to tell all that we have seen ad heard. The gospel is available to all people—-even the poorest people, like the shepherds. Praise of God surrounds the incarnation of God into human flesh. The coming of Jesus as Savior is the central reason to praise God, as such praise reflects heavenly activity.
The last statement in today’s Gospel: “After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in Mary’s womb. Beloved, it is important to praise God for His actions on our behalf. As important as it is to pray daily, we must also lift our praises up to Him for all He has done for us individually, as a family, and as the body of Christ, which is the Church, His church. We are to reflect on our lives and recognize those things that He has done for us and to respond to His actions in praise and thanksgiving. We should begin with, “Abba, Father.” Amen