In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Think of the noise, the activity, the busy people rushing around as a 21st century mother gives birth. Monitors beep. Doctors attend and nurses assist the laboring mother. Fathers nervously await the child, trying to comfort the woman in her most uncomfortable time. There seems to be a lot of chaos and noise welcoming the child! This scene is quite different from the birth of our Lord.
When all was still and it was midnight, your almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne. (Wisdom 18:14-15) (Antiphon for the Christmas Midnight Introit.) The Word made flesh descends from heaven, and after a brief nine months in the womb of His Blessed Mother, He is born to you in the city of David. Saint Luke speaks of shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night, but nothing more is spoken regarding the time of day of the holy birth. But nearly a thousand years earlier, King Solomon spoke these words which speak to the occasion.
When all was still and it was midnight, your almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne. But we are not always keepers of the sacred stillness. You and I daily contribute to chaos. We find ourselves serving our own wants, needs, and desires. We are all self-centered to one degree or another, and that is quite damning. If we read Luke 2 and treat it as a mere history lesson, we are not humble shepherds, but more like Herod’s henchmen. If we get wrapped up in the food, gifts, and loved ones at Christmas, and quickly rid our minds of the Divine Service and the Holy Gifts Jesus gives there, then we reject our Lord. It’s like receiving His gift and immediately taking it to K-mart to exchange it for some junk.
So what do we do? Nothing. You and I can do nothing. But our Savior does! He is living and active, assuring you that He is far more than a history lesson. He is here, now.
When all was still and it was midnight, your almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne. Here we are, nearing midnight over 2,000 years later. We keep speaking of Christ being born tonight. But wasn’t it a long time ago? Caesar Augustus is long dead. So are Herod the Great and Quirinius, the Governor of Syria. Two millennia have passed since these events unfolded.
When all was still and it was midnight, your almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne. The Almighty Word comes to you. He makes Himself present for you. The Son of David born during that 1st century census makes Himself bodily present to release you from your sin and deliver you from death and the devil.
When all was still and it was midnight, your almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne. The manger lays before you tonight. Only here at Saint John’s, the manger is not a simple stone trough or wooden box; the manger here is tall and wooden and painted white, with an image of the Baby grown to manhood. On it is laid the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes – these linens will drape the Body and Blood of Christ, given and shed for you.
Instead of hay or straw in the manger, this holy night we find Bread! And not just any bread. The Bread of Life is born this night in Bethlehem, the House of Bread. He bids you to come and feast.
When all was still and it was midnight, your almighty Word, O Lord, descended from the royal throne. The Almighty Word is about to enter this Bread and Wine to become His Body and Blood. Guess what? It will be still and it will be midnight as the Almighty Word descends from His royal throne to your mouth!
I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Amen.