B.A.S.I.C  #206        –DECEMBER 2011
Greetings in  the name and for the glory of our Savior Jesus Christ!
It is  my privilege to write to you on behalf of the CLC Board of  Missions as we  look back on a year of God’s abundant blessings and rejoice in  the blessing that He has in store for us in the New Year as we work together  to proclaim the   Good News of Jesus Christ!
We are  just two weeks away from celebrating our Savior’s birth. I would  like to        encourage you during this time of celebration with a Christmas Day sermon that  was preached a few years ago.
I    pray that the Lord will bless you all with Christmas celebration  that is   focused on our Savior Jesus Christ and the Joy and Peace that is   made possible   only through His perfect life, sacrificial death on the cross,  resurrection  from the dead, and His on-going work in our hearts through the  work of His Holy  Spirit in Word and Sacraments.
Others may look at our   Christmas celebrations and conclude that this is a nice   tradition or a      wonderful way to give and receive gifts to our loved ones. But   we know better  because things like tradition, music, and gifts, are also  reasons why people  attend everything from music concerts to sporting events and   birthday parties.
What sets this particular  “holiday” apart from all other celebrations and events is   found in a very  special announcement proclaimed in a very special way,  long, long ago, by an  angel in the sky over Bethlehem.
This announcement was  recorded, as the Holy Spirit breathed the very words of the  angel into  His chosen Gospel writer named Luke:
“for there is born to  you this day in the   city of David a SAVIOR, who is Christ the Lord.”
We set aside time each  year to celebrate because:
Jesus the Savior is Born!
He was:
Born in the city of David
He was:
Born to be Our Savior
Now, when you and I hear  the term “the city of David,” it may not mean a whole lot to          our 21st  century ears. But to the ears of 1st century Jewish shepherds,   that term the  “city of David” was packed with meaning. The city of David was   Bethlehem, the   city where the greatest king to ever rule Israel was born.
Many years earlier, the  Prophet Micah had singled out Bethlehem for a very important          purpose. He wrote,
“But you, Bethlehem   Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah,   Yet out of you  shall come forth to Me, the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose   goings forth are  from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)
No matter what the   shepherds knew about Bethlehem, there was one thing that they    didn’t know until   the angel told them. They didn’t know that on that very day,   in the city of          David, a Savior had been born. Think about the impact of those  simple and yet   wonderful words: “this day.”
For literally thousands    of years, people had been waiting for this day to come. Ever  since God promised  to Adam and Eve that “Someone” would crush the serpent’s head,   believers had been anxiously awaiting the birth of this child.         
Just imagine, generations  after generation, clinging to God’s Gospel promise to someday          send the Messiah.   And then suddenly for that handful of shepherds, “someday”   became          “THIS DAY!”
Now I realize that as you   and I look back on those words “this day in the city of   David,” we          might find ourselves thinking, “Well that was an awfully long  time ago. Do   those words have any meaning for our lives, some 2000 years   after that day?    Yes, they do. Those words mean at least three things for us.
First, those words mean  that God keeps His promises. 700 years before Jesus’ birth,   God had promised that  the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. God was making good on  that promise.
The second thing that we   can learn from the statement, “this   day in the town of David,” is that God chose to carry  out His plan  for our salvation at a specific place and a specific time in          world history. In  other words, your salvation was not accomplished in the timeless expanse of   eternity. It was accomplished when God had His Son take on  human flesh to be  born into this world as a little baby boy. That’s not just a  theory. It’s not   some kind of ancient fable or legend. That’s historical fact.  A REAL place at a  REAL time
There is one more thing  that we can take home from those words, “this    day in the town of David.” Those words mean that God Almighty cared  enough about you and me to actually step into our world and   become one of us.   Sometimes we tend to think of God as being million miles away  or that He can’t  relate to what we’re going through or that religion is purely          theoretical and   not relevant to our daily lives. Sometimes we’re tempted to   think that God          can’t relate to our hurts, our disappointments, our struggles.         
But wait a minute! Our God was born in a barn! He was laid to sleep in a feed bunk.   The Bible says  that Jesus was made like you and me in every way-only He was  without sin. God          became a man just like you and me so that He could, in the  words of Hebrews 4:15          “sympathize with our   weaknesses.”
The Christmas narrative  underscores the fact that God came into our world to relate to  our problems and then to ultimately, rescue us from our biggest problem. In  fact, that’s really          the second and even more important announcement made by the  angel on that first          Christmas night.
After sharing the when and where of the baby’s birth, the angel goes on to explain  who this child is and maybe even more importantly, what He had come to do. The angel announces that this child was Born to Be Our Savior.
Of all the words in Luke  chapter 2, the most important word is the “SAVIOR.” And yet,  for all  the people who have ever heard that word read, or maybe even  recited it in a  Christmas pageant, I wonder how many really know what that  word “SAVIOR” really  means.
Do we fully appreciate  the full meaning of that word, Savior? What does that mean to   be the “SAVIOR OF  THE WORLD” Are we talking – a super-man type character who   will defeat evil criminals and save lovely women as they fall from  sky-scrappers? No, by the  grace of God we know that the Savior came to save us from  ourselves.
When we are honest with  ourselves, we know all too well that all people, every one of   us, you and me  included, at our very core, are all completely corrupt. By   nature we don’t want   to serve God, we want to serve ourselves. And we are willing  to lie and cheat  and hurt other people to get what we want.
God’s Word reveals this  in a very blunt way:
“there is none who  does good, no not  one” (Psalm 14:3).
And again:
“for all have sinned   and fall short of the   glory of God” (Romans 3:23a).
And then the Bible goes   on to tell us the penalty for all of this:
“The   wages of sin is death” (Romans  3:23b)
And again,
“The soul who sins is   the one who will  die” (Ezekiel 18:4)
That’s the painful  message of what we have earned by our sinful behavior. And  there is nothing   that you and I can do on our own to change that.
Why all of this talk of   sin and death at Christmas time when we should be filled with          “holiday cheer?” Because  without a proper understanding and realization of what we have          been saved from we  can never truly appreciate the Savior who was born!
I just mentioned that  there is nothing we can do about our problem of sin by  ourselves, but there is   something that God can do and has already done! He sent His Son to be our  SAVIOR!
That means that Jesus  came and lived the perfect life we could never live. And we  know, by faith,  that He then offered that life on the cross to pay the penalty   for our sins. In  so doing, Jesus did far more than merely set a good example  for us, or teach us   how to love one another. Jesus literally rescued you and me  from an eternity    spent suffering in the fires and torment of hell. That’s what  the angel meant   when he said, “THIS   DAY… a SAVIOR  has been born.”
We celebrate the birth of    our Savior because there is nothing we’d rather do than revel  and rejoice in  the good news of great joy that is for all the people:“For there is born to you            this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the   Lord!”
On behalf of your   brothers and fellow servants of the Savior of the CLC Board of  Missions,
Pastor Todd Ohlmann,          chairman