Isaiah 7:10–14; Ps. 110:1-4; 1 John 4:7–16; Matthew 1:18–25
The Word of the Lord Is Fulfilled in the Flesh of Jesus
Though Ahaz would not ask, the Lord gives a sign to the house of David that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). With this promise, He signifies that salvation is by His grace alone; it is no work or achievement of fallen humanity, but the Lord’s own work and free gift. The promise is fulfilled as the Son of God is conceived and born of the Virgin Mary, and the sign is received in faith by the house of David in the person of Joseph (Matt. 1:20–24). “Incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary” (Nicene Creed), God is with us (Immanuel) in the flesh of Jesus, Mary’s Son. Joseph believes that Word of God and so demonstrates a marvelous example in his immediate and quiet obedience, taking Mary to be his wife and caring for her in faith and love. He loves her because the love of God is manifest in this, that “the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world,” “to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10, 14).
Isaiah 9:2–7; Ps. 96:1-13; Titus 2:11–14; Luke 2:1–14, 15–20
Of the Day: LSB 358: From Heav'n Above to Earth I Come
Offertory: LSB 368 Angels We Have Heard on High
Distribution: LSB 361 O Little Town of Bethlehem;
Closing: LSB 363 Silent Night, Holy Night
The Light of Christ Shines Forth in the Darkness
Heaven and earth rejoice on this night because the glory of the blessed Trinity is manifested in the human birth of “our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). In Him, the Father’s grace, mercy and peace rest upon the world. The silence of death is broken by this “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). And all we who have gone astray like lost and wandering sheep, who have “walked in the darkness” of doubt and fear and sinful unbelief, behold “a great light” in the nativity of Christ (Is. 9:2). In Him, “the grace of God has appeared” (Titus 2:11). For this Child of Mary who is born for us, this dear Son of God who is given to us, will bear the burden of our sin and death in His own body on the cross. He thereby establishes a government of peace, “with justice and with righteousness,” which shall have no end; not by any work of man, but “the zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Is. 9:7).
Isaiah 62:10–12; Ps. 98:1-9; Titus 3:4–7; Luke 2:1–14, 15–20
Christ Jesus Reveals Himself in the Signs He Has Given to His Church
The Lord has not forsaken us. He has come and sought us out to save us (Is. 62:11–12), so that “being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). In Christ Jesus, conceived and born of Mary, “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared” (Titus 3:4). Now He is lifted up in the Gospel, “a signal over the peoples” (Is. 62:10), that He might call us to rejoice in His salvation. St. Luke emphasizes the signs by which the shepherds once found Him: in Bethlehem, the City of David, “wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). The same Lord Jesus reveals Himself to us in the sure and certain signs of His Gospel. His Church is a true Bethlehem (House of Bread); for the Son of David, “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11), feeds us with His body and His blood from the manger of His altar, wrapped in swaddling cloths of bread and wine. Let us ponder these mysteries and, as the shepherds did, go about our vocations, “glorifying and praising God” (Luke 2:19–20).
Isaiah 52:7–10; Ps. 2:1-12; Hebrews 1:1–6, 7–12; John 1:1–14, 15–18
Entrance: LSB 379 O Come, All Ye Faithful
Of the Day: LSB 382 We Praise You, Jesus, at Your Birth
Offertory: LSB 380 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Distribution: LSB 384 Of the Father’s Love Begotten;
Closing: LSB 386 Now Sing We, Now Rejoice
The Living and Life-Giving Word of God Dwells among Us in the Flesh
The Lord sends out His ministers of the Gospel to make disciples “of all the nations,” so that “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” For the Lord has “bared his holy arm” in the incarnate Christ (Is. 52:7, 10). The Child in the manger, born of the Virgin Mary, is the very Word of God, the only begotten Son of the Father, “whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:2). As “all things were made through him” (John 1:3), so are all things redeemed and made new in Him. In His body of flesh and blood, we behold “the radiance of the glory of God” (Heb. 1:3), “glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He dwells among us in peace that we might have life and light and salvation in Him. For by His Word of the Gospel, we are born again as the children of God, bearing His name and sharing His eternal life.
Looking Forward to Sunday Morning (3-Year Lectionary): Christmas Eve, Midnight, Dawn and Day – Dr. Carl Fickenscher – Issues, Etc.
Dr. Carl Fickenscher of Concordia Theological Seminary, Ft. Wayne, Ind., discusses the readings and the propers with Pr. Todd Wilken on Issues Etc (mp3, 1:16:10, 30.7 MB, 2015-Dec-21)