From the entire Concordia family to yours: Merry Christmas! Today’s post comes from Concordia Chaplain Rev. Robert Wacker. Concordia has an excellent Chaplaincy Department that actively contributes to our patients’ and residents’ spritual well being. Enjoy!
Let me wish you all an early Merry Christmas! Christmas is now just a few days away, and the season of Advent is almost through. During this season of Advent, we have been talking about how God comes to us in Christ Jesus.
Jesus has come to us in the flesh, as the Son of God Incarnate in the womb of Mary, so that He would grow up to bear your sins at the cross, die, rise in victory, and ascend back to the Father. He comes to us now in the Word of God (the Bible), the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and in the absolution (the forgiveness of sins). This weekend our attention will be drawn to how Christ has already come incarnate, in the flesh at the manger born of Mary the virgin chosen by God to bear His Son, God incarnate, God with us, Emmanuel. So that in the flesh He would grow up to bear the sins of the world on the Cross and die, rise in Victory in the Flesh, that He would also ascend to the Father with the promise He will return. He did this all so that He would give you forgiveness of sins, salvation, life eternal.
One of my favorite Hymns that is sung during this season is “Savior of the Nations, Come.” This hymn spans the Seasons of Advent and Christmas. Its story spans the whole life and ministry of Christ. In particular, my favorite verse is stanza 5.
God the Father was His source,
Back to God He ran His course.
Into hell His road went down,
Back then to His throne and crown.*
(LSB Hymn #332; © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, no. 100013631.; © 1978 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License .NET, no. 100013631.)
This hymn was written by the early church father Ambrose and translated by Martin Luther into German. Luther wrote stanza 5 because he believed there was no way to look at the Christmas story and not think on where Christ’s “Heroic course” (these are the words used by stanza 4 to describe Christ’s ministry) ends up: with His death on the cross bearing your sins, and dying to bring you forgiveness of sins, salvation, and eternal life. He took your place so that you would be free from sin.
One of our readings this Sunday is from John chapter 1. In verses 4, 5, and 14 John writes:
“4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. … 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Here John tells us that God came into the flesh in the Son of God. That He lived among man so that He would bring the light of His righteousness into the darkness of sin; so that mankind would be freed from the bondage of sin and by taking their place He would declare them not guilty of breaking the law. The Glory of God is visible to us in Christ, who gives to us the Father’s grace and truth, by His Heroic Course that ran Him to the cross to forgive you.
This is why at Christmas we remember the birth of Christ – because He, the Son of God, who is God, would die at the cross so that you would live through Him. You are forgiven in Christ, and have the hope of salvation. Jesus has done all the work for you so that you would receive this gift of God.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sending Your only Son to walk among us all those years ago. We ask that You be with us all through this busy season in our world and focus our lives through faith on the reality that You have saved us in Jesus. That in Him You forgive our sins, give us salvation and eternal life. Through that same Jesus Christ, who lives, and reigns with You, and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
If you would like to read the full text of “Savior of the Nations, Come,” an older edition of it can be found here: http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh095.htm
*Verse 5 from the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) is verse 4 from the Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) as linked above. In LSB this hymn is number 332, and in TLH is number 95.
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