Todd A. Peperkorn, STM Messiah Lutheran Church Kenosha, Wisconsin Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols (Dec. 24, 2010)
TITLE: â€œLover of Humanityâ€
God loves to be with His people. We fascinate Him. This fascination is not the fascination of a scientist, performing experiments upon us to see how we behave. Nor is His fascination like going to a circus or some kind of horror show. There are some things, or people, we are fascinated with because they are so bizarre or so wrong that we canâ€™t tear our eyes away from them. It is no accident that movies of war and disaster and heartache are so popular. They are popular because we love to play the social scientist or the crowd at the zoo or the voyeur on otherâ€™s pain.
But when it really comes down to it, by nature you and I want to run away from actual people and their problems. It is easy to become modern monks and nuns, hiding away in ghettos of our own making. It is easy to talk about love and happiness and peace and joy this season, as long as it is on our own terms. If I am going to be a philanthropist, if I am going to be a lover of humanity, then it has to be on my turf. I donâ€™t want to love all of humanity. I want to love humanity if it is safe, if it doesnâ€™t inconvenience me overmuch. I want to love humanity in a way that doesnâ€™t affect my budget. I do not want to love humanity if it puts me or the ones thatÂ I really love in danger. I will love humanity if it doesnâ€™t mean actually dealing with people and their problems.
Letâ€™s face it, our love may be deep for one, shallow for another. Our love is imperfect, frail and weak. The millstone of sin still hangs upon us, keeping us from loving as we ought, even in this most holy of seasons.
But unlike you and I, God loves to be with His people. Even with our weaknesses. Even with our rebellion and shallow plastic love. Despite all of our shortcomings and sins, God loves to be with you. His love for you is such that He comes to be with you in a way that no one could really fathom. He comes to you helpless as a little child. Who could fear a God like that? He comes to you to take on your slavery so that you might be free.
Where we run away, God jumps in. God jumps right into your life. He jumps into broken marriages and messed up families. He jumps into the prisons and the bars of our own making. He enters into the cancers and heart attacks and strokes and pains that only you and He can truly know. He jumps right in, wades through this muck and gunk, and says to you, â€œHere I am! Donâ€™t be afraid.â€
What kind of a God is that? This God, the God of love, the God who loves you, the God who takes on your flesh and blood, He comes here to save you from sin, death and the power of the devil. St. Paul put it this way,
â€œFor we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.â€ (Titus 3:3â€“7 ESV)
This is a night of rejoicing. Christ has come to you as one of you. He has come to pour out His love for you. The Word was made flesh and now gives that flesh of Himself to you on the altar. God loves to be with His people, and you are His people, the sheep of His pasture. You are His family. Rejoice with the angels and shepherds and sinners this night. God loves you dearly. Believe it for Jesusâ€™ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith until life everlasting. Amen.