Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and
from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
You've heard that song over and over probably in Wal-Mart or
maybe on the radio. It goes like this: "There's no place like home for the
holidays." And there really isn't, is there. So, I say to you,
"Welcome home!" Here is where you were born, maybe not necessarily
this specific building or structure, but you were born among this group of
people known as the Church, and the Church has been singing, "Glory to God
in the highest" for the last several hours all around the world as each
part of the world the sun begins to set. So, the song continues on, and it will
continue on around the clock through tomorrow as well, for the Church is God's
holy house, and you were wrapped up here among God's people.
Now, granted, it did markedly differ from what we see in the
text, for where our Lord was born there were angels that sang aloud. But yet,
after they sang aloud to the shepherds, the shepherds had to go to a backwater
town named Bethlehem. There weren't any angels singing "Glory to God in
the highest" there. The glory of the Lord wasn't shining around them as
they looked in a stable, and saw lying in a place where animals feed, known as
a trough or manger, God in the flesh.
But that is kind of like your birth here in the Church.
Sinful parents brought you to the church, had you baptized. You were wrapped up
in God's grace and mercy, and the angels in heaven rejoiced that a soul was
brought to the Lord, but you didn't hear anything necessarily, and neither did
your parents. They were thinking…We pray that he doesn't scream and cry, or
that she doesn't fill her diaper, we pray, O Lord, during this holy moment.
A lot like when the shepherds came and saw the infant Jesus,
God in the flesh. There was no halo over His head, like many paintings are
portrayed. There wasn't the smell of incense; it was the smell of cattle,
sheep. There was not the sound of bells ringing, but baa in the
background was all that they heard.
Just like you, for after you were baptized, you grew up as
any other sinful human being grew up, trusting in your God, and at the same
time, continually being shown by the same God of your sin. Welcome home! Here
is where you are among brothers and sisters who share the same flesh and blood
as you, the same sin, and the same Savior.
Welcome home to the place where we are wrapped up in God's
grace and mercy, where the angels shout aloud that His people have come home to
be with Him, the One who has brought us into the kingdom, the Shepherd born who
sought us out and continually seeks us out, finding us in our lostness and
brokenness, finding us in our stubbornness and in our anger, finding us and
bringing us home again, on His shoulders at times, too weak and weary, too
angry and upset, too overwhelmed with emotion.
"Today, the Scripture has been fulfilled in your
hearing. Today in this city of David a Savior has been born for you."
There is this desire in our culture to have an experience with God, an
authentic encounter with Him. You've just been given the encounter of God. The
question is did you see it? Did you hear it? Because today in your hearing, the
Scriptures were fulfilled.
As the children were wiggling about on the carpet here…and
by the way, they were being very good…as they were wiggling about on the
carpet, they heard the Scriptures fulfilled in their hearing. But the glory of
the Lord wasn't shining around here; just the candles and the last moments of
the sun. The bells weren't ringing. And they'll go home, and you'll probably
have to get onto them for not waiting for their turn to open the gifts, or
crying because they want something when they didn't get what they desired…just
like you did when you went home.
Welcome home here, though. Here is where your home has been.
Someday, you will be wrapped up here and buried. Just like you were born here
in His house, so shall you die in His house, and you shall be wrapped up, and
you shall be in a very humble setting of a coffin, and there still will be
angels singing, and the glory of the Lord still will be shining, though it will
not be visible to our earthly eyes, but by the eyes of faith, in your hearing, will
you know again the Scriptures are fulfilled.
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I shall give thee the
crown of life.” Here in your house, in your home, is where God gives such a
crown to sinful people who gave birth to sinful children who made sinful decisions
in their life and wrecked havoc upon others, and had others wrecked it upon
them. Here is where your Shepherd has brought you home again to be cleaned, to
be comforted, to be fed, and to be stilled. Welcome home, for there is no place
like home for the holy days of God. In His holy name, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Merry Christmas!