B.A.S.I.C. NEWSLETTER #182
I Cor.. 16:9 ‘For a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.’
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Christmas is a time when we gather to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus. Here in the U.S., as is the custom, in many Christian congregations in places such as Kenya, India, Tanzania, Uganda, Togo, Ghana, Nepal, Myanmar, Nigeria and around the world, we give the children of the congregations we serve, the privilege of sharing the Christmas story. What follows is the Christmas Eve service that the children of the congregation I serve will be sharing with those who gather to worship our Savior and King, Jesus Christ.
I thank the Lord for each one of you. You are a gift, given by the Lord, to His kingdom as you use your God given abilities to spread the Good News of Christ crucified and risen for the sins of the world.
On behalf of the CLC Board of Mission, I wish you all a blessed and Christ filled Christmas. May your Christmas be filled with the joy and peace that comes only through faith in our crucified and risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Your brother and fellow servant in Christ,
Pastor Todd Ohlmann
CLC Board of Missions Chairman
Rejoice! Our King Has Come!
Christmas is the joyous celebration of the birth of our Savior– King, Jesus Christ. Let’s take a few moments to reflect upon the promises of our heavenly Father to His children of the Old Testament, who by faith, trusted when He told them, “The King Shall Come.” Knowing that Jehovah is faithful and keeps His promises, we then remember the manger of Bethlehem as we rejoice with the shepherds who were the first to be told that, “The King Has Come.” And finally we will be reminded and encouraged, that as we live on earth as His servants, that “The King Now Comes” through Gospel in Word and Sacrament to rule in our hearts with His grace and mercy.
In our modern times we seldom hear about kings. But when we do it is typically in connection with a fairy tale or some type of make-believe. However, the king whom we honor tonight is no fairy tale and there is nothing make-believe about our need for a Savior. The promise of a Savior King came very early on in the history of the world. We recall the sad and soul condemning events that unfolded in the Garden of Eden as recorded in Genesis chapter three:
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:4-8
It was from this moment that man no longer lived in the perfect union with God according to His will. From now on the human race became enslaved to sin and in desperate need of a Savior King to save us. Our heavenly Father was not long in bringing the promise of such a King to His wayward creation. Even in the sadness of Genesis chapter three we are given hope through the first promise of a Savior.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. Genesis 3:15
As the years went on, God continued to remind His people of the coming Savior-King. In Genesis chapter 49 verse 10 God said:
The scepter shall not depart from Judah… Genesis 49:10
Isaiah opens our eyes to the divine nature and gracious rule of the coming King when he tells us that the Savior will come to earth as a child in chapter nine verse 6:
For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
Finally, when God was ready to send our heavenly King to us, He sent an angel named Gabriel to visit a young virgin named Mary. Listen to the words of the angel in Luke chapter 1 verses 30-33:
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33
In our day and age, a king or high ruling official is not able to simply show up in any location at just anytime. Much preparation needs to take place for such an event can happen. Security has to be increased, and the details of the appearance have to be ironed out with the greatest of care. It seems, however, that things were just the opposite when Jesus, our Heavenly King, made His first public appearance. In fact, the city of Bethlehem was overrun with people who were scrambling to be counted in the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. In reality though, never before had Bethlehem hosted a more detailed and well planned event than it did on the night Jesus was born. To believe that a King would be born in a stable simply by chance is ridiculous. Without a doubt our heavenly Father made sure that everything was organized and the fullness of time had surely come as Paul tells us in Galatians chapter 4 verses 4-5 and the Gospel of Luke:
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7
The wait was over. The King was finally to begin His life-saving mission. A modern-day King needs the technology of live television and hordes of reporters along with a campaign staff to try to convince the public that he brings them something special. However, at the arrival of Jesus there was no fanfare, no mobs of reporters trying to cover the event. There was no minute by minute commentary broadcast on 24 hour news channels. But the news of Jesus’ birth did not go untold or unheard. The blessed story of our Savior’s birth hit the airwaves in a manner that no TV News Crew would ever be able to match. On the night of our Savior’s birth, our heavenly Father sent Angels to broadcast the message of our Savior-King to some shepherds near Bethlehem.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:8-14
The hearts of those lowly shepherds must have been set on fire by this news. Suddenly, their mission for the night, and for their whole lives was changed. They wasted no time in doing the three most important things they could do: seeing the King, worshiping the King, and telling far and wide the Good News of the King.
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:16-19
Imagine the joy of the shepherds, arriving breathlessly at the stable, seconds away from seeing the face of their newborn King, their Savior. Tonight, some two thousand years, two continents, and an ocean separate us from sharing that night with the shepherds. And yet, we see our King through His holy Word. And as the shepherds did that night, we worship and adore our King by taking every opportunity to rejoice and praise Him with each other in this very building every Sunday morning. And finally, like the shepherds we will make it our life’s ambition to share His saving message every day, in every place we find ourselves. Our Savior-King commissioned us with this task before He ascended to His heavenly Throne:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:19-20
Pastor Todd Ohlmann
My wife, Mary, and I add our Christmas wishes along with Pastor Ohlmann. May you have a blessed Christmas as we celebrate our Savior’s birth.
Pastor David Koenig