Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sunday School Christmas Service Sermon, 21 December 2011

The Rev. Paul J Cain
In a Manger?
The Nativity of Our Lord: Sunday School Christmas Service, 21 December 2011
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

LSB 364 Away in a Manger
1          Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the [bright] sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.                      Public domain

“Were you born in a barn?” Perhaps you’ve been asked that question yourself once or twice when you’ve left the door open too long this time of year.
Jesus actually was “born in a barn,” though we most often refer to it as a stable. The manger was probably made of stone, for it was a feeding trough in a cave-like grotto used as a stable. All technical explanations aside, Jesus Christ was born in a barn. Can you imagine a more humble birth for the Son of God?
To this day, if you really wanted to, you could travel to Bethlehem and see the place where all this took happened. It doesn’t look much like a barn, a stable, or a grotto anymore, for it is now a highly decorated Church because of Jesus who was born there.
In a similar way, since you’re already in the Holy Land, you could travel over to Jerusalem and see the place where Jesus was crucified, and the place where He was buried and was raised from the dead. They are so close together they share a common Church roof. Again, these places don’t look much like they used to, a hill where executions were carried out by crucifixion, and a tomb carved out of the side of a stone hill. They too were transformed into indoor spaces, a single Church building built to worship Jesus Christ our Lord, who was crucified, died, and was raised there.
One of the main points of the Children’s Christmas Service tonight is that while Jesus was once a babe in a manger, He didn’t stay that way. He grew up. He was born to die for you. And if we want His forgiveness, God’s own forgiveness, we don’t have to find His manger, His cross, or His empty tomb. We don’t even have to travel back in time to personally witness these events. The Lord gathers us to a place like this where His Word is read and preached in its truth and purity and where His sacraments, His gifts to us, deliver the forgiveness He won on the cross. Yes, Jesus Christ was born in a barn so that you can spend eternity in heaven with Him.
3          Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.          Public domain

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.