Passage: Galatians 4:4–4:7
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Galatians 4:4-7
Date: January 1st, 2017; Christmas 1; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Well, it’s over!
Yes, we are still celebrating the season of Christmas in the church, but the anticipation and excitement of Christmas for most has come and gone.
The gifts have been unwrapped, the good food and drink has been consumed, and the holidays from work and school are coming to an end for many people.
Soon the Christmas trees and decorations will be put away and as quickly as the Christmas season arrived - it is gone.
I tend to feel a sense of being let down after the holidays.
To be sure, I don’t feel let down by the time I got to spend with family and friends, the good food and drink, or by the gifts I received - all of that is fantastic!
But I feel a sense of let down because after all of the anticipation and hype, everything seems to go so fast.
And before I know it, it’s back to the regular routine.
I also find that I am quickly reminded that even though there might be a bit of a break from the routine - the reality is that the troubles in life never take a holiday.
Financial strains and debt are still around - maybe even most especially in January as the Christmas credit-card bills start to surface.
Injuries, accidents, and sickness don’t take a holiday.
The strife we may have in our relationships with family and friends remains.
In fact, maybe the turbulence in our relationships becomes even more pronounced this time of year as we find ourselves worn and weary, with our nerves frayed.
We snap at loved ones and say things we wish we hadn’t.
We see in the news that crimes, tragedy, and natural disasters don't take any time off.
The unfortunate reality is that even though the Christmas holidays can provide a bit of a reprieve from some of life’s difficulties, we find that they are still there after all of the company has gone home and after all of the Christmas wrapping paper has been cleaned up.
I share this not to be a downer, but to acknowledge that for some (including myself) there can be a sense of let down after the Christmas holidays as we return to the regular routines of life.
It is for this reason that I think it is so important to remind ourselves that the Good News of Christmas endures long after the holiday celebrations.
In fact, the Good News of Christmas endures every day, every moment, of our lives.
Hear again the Good News of Christmas as we heard it in our Epistle lesson this morning, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
This is the Good News that leads us to sing “Joy to the World!” - even in the midst of the difficulties we face.
This is the one Christmas gift that will never wear out, or break, or rust, or fade away.
This is the gift from God that provides joy, certain hope, and a peace that surpasses all of our understanding.
This is a Christmas gift that we keep unwrapping each day of our lives.
As soon as misery and death entered into this world, God promised that he would save us.
He spoke through the prophets of old to share that his promise of salvation would be fulfilled through a Messiah who would break into this world at just the right time.
And at just the right time, when the fullness of time had come, on that very first Christmas, God kept his promise to save us as he sent forth his Son to redeem us.
The Promised One, Christ Jesus, lived a sinless, holy, and righteous life - and he gives you his perfect life as a gift.
His holiness and righteousness is now your holiness and righteousness.
God sent forth his Son to take upon himself all of the punishment that your sin and failure deserves.
You are forgiven for all of it. You are cleansed of it. Your sin is no more.
The wages of sin is death, but your sin has been removed, so eternal life is yours.
Though sin left us as orphans - lost and confused, separated from each other, separated from God, feeling as though we have no home - in Christ, we have been adopted into God’s family.
Our heavenly Father has made us his children and he cares for us, provides for us, and promises that nothing can ever separate us from his love.
In Christ, we are heirs who receive God’s gifts of peace, forgiveness, and eternal life.
Listen to how St. Peter describes this inheritance, “[It is] an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:4).
Your Baptism serves as your adoption papers and makes you eligible to receive this inheritance.
It is through your baptism that God claimed you, redeemed you, and made you his own.
Remember that anytime you start to doubt who you are and to whom you belong.
Dear friends, there is no doubt that this can be a tough time of year for some.
It can be difficult to “get back to reality” after all of the good holiday cheer.
But we cling to, and are gladdened, by the ultimate Christmas gift that we have received.
The gift God gave to us when the fullness of time had come.
He sent forth his Son, to redeem us who were under the law, that we may be adopted into his family and receive eternal life.
“Glory to God in highest heav’n,
Who unto us His Son has giv’n!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.” (LSB 358).
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.