It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve already heard Luke 2 in the past few weeks. Two times or 17 times. Forty-two times or one time. From baking sugar cookies with your aunt who has a cutesy Christmas apron with Luke 2 embedded right above the lacey white ruffles, to the Christmas themed Bible studies and children’s Christmas programs, from the conservative Christian radio station to Christmas caroling at cheerfully musty nursing homes, you’ve definitely heard Luke 2. It’s pretty much a standard go-to Bible passage for the Christmas season.
And Lutherans? Boy…do we ever love the standard.
We love sitting in the same wooden church pew for 25 years straight and making Great Grandma Patsy’s longstanding bean casserole for the August potluck and we love singing our liturgy in traditional fashion.
But, do you know what Lutherans love even more than the standard?
We love finding the extraordinary in the standard, too.
For instance, there is a lot of extraordinary in the very standard Christmas chapter of the Bible, Luke 2. Luke 2:12-16: “‘And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 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, good will toward men.’ And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, ‘Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.’ And they came with haste, and found Mary, and
I bet that wasn’t on the shepherds’ to-do lists.
They were probably busy, a lot like you and I today. They had bills to pay, dishes to wash, homework to be done, kids to put to sleep, donkeys to feed. The usual. But, the funny thing is, they didn’t do those things. They didn’t say, “A Savior is born for me? Oh, cool,” and continue with their day-to-day activities. They didn’t tell the angels, “I’ll go check on the Savior after my AP Calculus test tomorrow,” either. Instead, they dropped what they were doing. They didn’t think about what had to be done. Things got frantic. They ran. They ran with haste to see the Lord that was promised to save them! And after running, they saw their Savior lying in a manger who was born to die for the sins of the whole world.
Do you ever wish you were one of the shepherds who got to see Jesus, to touch Him, to hear His infant cooing and crying, to be with the real, the living, the extraordinary Christ? I sometimes do myself. But, let’s not get too down in the dumps here. You get to be with the same Jesus the shepherds did, too.
Every Sunday, your pastor gives you Jesus, who is the Jesus who was born in a manger in Bethlehem. In your baptism, He gives you the water of Jesus that washes you and cleanses you from all of your transgressions. At the altar during the Lord’s Supper, He gives you the very Body and very Blood of Jesus who bled so that you do not have to bleed in despair. In His preaching, He gives you the crucified Jesus who was raised for your justification from sin, death and the devil.
Tetelestai. It is finished! And it is all for you, not just during the Christmas season, but always.
This past Christmas day…and every Sunday year ’round, drop what you’re doing. Hear and go see what is given for you: a Savior! Run with haste to your church where the Word is preached and where the Sacraments are distributed! Yes, you will again read the same Luke 2 as before at the same standard church service per usual, but the extraordinary that is our Christ lies in those “standard” Words and those “standard” Sacraments–no matter how many times you hear them or receive them–are soul-saving, lifesaving, and, therefore, not that standard at all.
by Kaitlin Jandereski