Sermon for Christmas Eve Midnight Divine Service – December 24, 2020

+ Christmas Midnight – December 24th, 2020 +

Series B: Isaiah 9:2-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The Miracle Truce of Christmas”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

There are certain words we expect to hear at Christmas. Words like: Hope. Joy. Promise. Gift. We could also add two more to the list. War and Peace.

 

It’s not hard to understand why peace is a Christmas word. After all, Jesus the Prince of Peace is born to bring peace on earth, goodwill toward men. But war? That doesn’t sound very Christmasy at all.

 

And yet, those two words, war and peace, are a great picture of Christmas. To illustrate, let’s take a quick trip through the history books. Back to World War I, what is often called the first modern, mechanized war.

 

It was the war of the infamous Lost Generation of writers whose nihilism and spinning moral compasses helped kill the Victorian age of gilded optimism. Traumatized authors like William Golding, George Orwell and J.R.R. Tolkien, all veterans of the French front, later painted a picture of human nature that contradicted man’s folly of moral progress. Battered by the horrors of modern combat, it was hard to convince folks that humanity was getting better every day and in every way.

 

On December 24th, 1914, the war had been raging only a few months and already 800,000 men had been wounded or killed. Imagine it. That’s a lot of blood and guts. The Western Front was a meat-grinder. The dugouts in France were filled with terror-stricken men and boys set on mutual destruction.

 

But then something truly remarkable happened on Christmas Eve of 1914. For a brief time, peace invaded a warzone. A few German soldiers lit candles and set up Christmas trees in their muddy trenches, filled with rot and stench. They sang Christmas carols over the canon fire:“Stille Nacht!  Heilige Nacht!” Soon the British joined their voices: “Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.” The hellscape of the War to End All Wars was punctured by the sounds of heaven.

 

One by one, the combatants laid down their weapons and poked their heads above the trenches, disarmed, and ventured into no-man’s-land for an informal Christmas truce. They gave each other small gifts of chocolate bars and cigarettes. Men who, the day before, had been shooting to kill each other were now shaking hands and sharing plum pudding. Then, early on Christmas morning, some of the British soldiers produced a soccer ball. They started a game. Some of the Germans joined in. All thoughts of killing were forgotten. In some places, the informal armistice continued the next day, neither side eager to fire the first shot.

In the middle of one of the bloodiest, most brutal hostilities this world has ever witnessed, the birth of Jesus cleared the fog of war and revealed something of the love of God. Cynical types attribute the cease-fire to nothing more than a natural human desire for relief from battle. For a day, at least, the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, brought soldiers together in a way that no earthly peace ever could. It became known as the miracle truce of Christmas

That Christmas, enemies became friends. And by the grace of God in Christ, is happening today and around the world. God is in the business of turning His enemies into His friends, through manger and cross. A neighbor with whom you’ve shared the Gospel. An unknown family in need who’s received food you gave to the local foodbank. A friend, family member, or fellow brother or sister in Christ you’ve called or sent a card to share some comfort in this crazy, pandemic, fear filled year.

This is a new order of things, a new heaven and earth, a peace Jesus gives in his birth at Christmas, his death on the cross. In this new creation, we will beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into pruning hooks. In the new creation, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb … and a little child shall lead them” (Is. 11:6–7). In the new creation, all that is wrong shall be set right.

When you think about it that way, war and peace aren’t all that strange of words to hear on Christmas. After all, that’s exactly what happened that first Christmas. Jesus’ birth is everything the angels declared it to be. Good tidings of great joy. Peace on earth. Goodwill toward men. A Savior born for you.

And yet, Jesus’ birth is also a declaration of war. Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem began God’s grand invasion to rescue, liberate, and save us from captivity, death, and darkness. We who live in enemy occupied territory; who are surrounded on all sides by sin, death, and the devil – to us Jesus came; He was be born, to enter the fray on our behalf. To fight death and sin and Satan for us. To stand in the breach of death and the grave and fight to the death on our behalf. To lay down his arms on the cross and conquer and finish the battle once and for all.

Christmas is the story of how the rightful King has landed in Bethlehem to take back his fallen creation in the greatest Christmas miracle truce of all – his birth in the manger for you. His death on the cross for you. His rising victoriously from the grave for you.

This Christmas, God is still in the business of turning enemies into friends, sinners into saints. War into peace. The new creation we long for is here. Jesus’ peace is given to you in word, water, body, and blood. The same body of Jesus, born for you, crucified for you, given and shed his blood for you, now joins us in the midst of our daily warfare, and he feeds us. This is the feast of victory for our God.

This Christmas, we may still live behind enemy lines. We may still live in the trenches, battling disease, wrestling with our own sin, and others. We may still live with one foot in the age of rebellion.

And yet the hour is coming when feuds and fighting will be no more. When war will be no more, and only Jesus’ peace will remain. Yes, the hour of perfect fulfillment is yet to come, but it’s here already. It began in the Virgin’s womb long ago. The peace the world is pining for. The peace glimpsed that Christmas Eve in 1914. The peace we long for. The peace of which the angels sang. Is born for you.

Jesus brings peace unlike anything the world offers. Jesus reconciles the world to God by His blood. More than a ceasefire, God has done everything to redeem, rescue, and restore us. In Jesus, our warfare is ended. Your victory is won. And you are at peace with God.

 

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

 

And that, dear saints, is the real miracle truce of Christmas.

 

A blessed Christmas to each of you…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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