Christmas signifies: “God is with us!”

December ushers in Advent, Christmas, and the end of the year. These periods determine the contents of our sermons in December. The focus is on admonition, expectation, and joy—also in our divine services.

Many people confuse Christmas with shopping binges and consumerism. The chase for the ultimate gift is on. For believers, the season of Advent is a time of remembrance and expectation.

  • We commemorate our Saviour Jesus Christ, who came into the world as a man in order to resurrect as God.
  • Advent is the expectation of the coming Christ, the Bridegroom, who will return to His congregation and transfigure it.

Jesus, the mild king

Already the prophet Jeremiah speaks expectantly of a time in which a son of David will be king and bring the law and justice to the people. Christ is the Son of David. This name is to be understood eschatologically, just like Son of Man and Son of God. Jesus Christ is a just ruler who rules His church. Those who belong to the church of Christ submit to His dominion. His policy of governing is grace and justice.

Jesus, the redeeming Saviour

On the second Sunday of Advent the focus will be on Jesus, the Redeemer. He wants to liberate human beings from the rule of sin. This is accomplished through baptism—which washes away original sin—and the forgiveness of sins. The human reaction to this is repentance! This is not always easy, as we know. But expectation also presupposes a certain attitude. And anyone who expects a king will humbly lower his eyes. God has given man a free will. He will only save those who want to be saved.

People who think it is enough that they are baptised are neither repentant nor do they do justice to the gospel. They are thoughtless and superficial. Sacraments are holy acts. There is nothing automatic about them. They require input from the person receiving them: the sinner recognises His mistakes, longs for grace, and makes an effort to overcome evil.

Jesus Christ, our example

On the third Sunday of Advent the time of expectation slowly draws to an end. How powerful the sentence in Galatians sounds: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son.” This is surely one of the best affirmations of the gospel. Finally, Jesus Christ came to earth as true Man and true God. A light came to illuminate the darkness. Suddenly there was a way out of all the misery. All the suffering was no longer pointless. Jesus had come, there is cause for rejoicing. He came as the new Adam: a man without sin, who lives in accordance with the will of God. To take Him as an example, to strive to be like Him, is what will bring us the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus, our close friend

This year’s Christmas message is: “God is with us!” The incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is a testimony for God’s love of mankind. “Christmas shows us that God’s love is stronger than all hatred, that God’s love is greater than all guilt,” Chief Apostle Schneider says in a Christmas message. And that is exactly what lends Christmas such a distinctive character: God is with us. It is good news for everyone, especially for people who are alone and do not look forward to Christmas. Or for people who have little or nothing to eat, who cannot afford to give gifts to their loved ones or who have no family in the first place and feel forgotten and forsaken. God is with you! And the others who look forward to Christmas—those who enjoy health, happiness, and peace—do not think they are superior to others because of it. God is also with them! The blessing of God is far more than money and health—the gifts under the Christmas tree are not an expression of divine blessing. His blessing is peace, strength, and support in good and in bad times.

Thank You, Jesus!

All that remains to be done at the end of the year is to say thank you. In spite of all the difficulties we experienced over the year, the cares, the sadness, we felt God’s care for us and His faithfulness. Let us thank God for sending the Redeemer and being faithful to us—that is a good move.

Photo: Smileus/

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Peter Johanning
Divine service