The Second Sunday after Christmas January 3, 2021
Text: 3 lessons for the day ILCW – B 21:2233
Theme: What Can the Birth of Jesus Tells Us About the New Year?
What can the birth of Jesus tell us about the year ahead? Looking at all of our lessons today, there are at least 3 observations we can make about it. The first is this:
I. God is not a God who leaves things to chance.
In the Old Testament Lesson from Micah 5:2 He said: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, from you will come the one who will be the ruler for me in Israel. His goings forth are from ancient times, from eternity….He will stand and shepherd with the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. They will dwell securely….This one will be their peace.”
Before you were born, did you know where you would come into this world? Of course not! No baby has any control or say over where he or she will be born – no baby except one. God made sure that when He entered our life, his people knew exactly where the Savior would be born: “In Bethlehem Ephrathah, of Judah.” That’s pinpoint accuracy because God doesn’t leave things to chance.
If He had only said that the Savior would come from “Bethlehem,” we might still be wondering about it, asking “which Bethlehem?” There are at least 4 cities of that name in our own country – Bethlehem, PA, Bethlehem, NY, Bethlehem, Conn., Bethlehem, NJ. And who knows how many other Bethlehems there are throughout the world? Even in Biblical days there were at least two Bethlehems in Israel – one in the north in Galilee (Josh.19:15), the other in the south in Judea (Gn.35:19). Which one was meant?
But God is not a God of confusion; He doesn’t leave things to chance. He said, “Bethlehem, Ephratha, in Judea. That’s where my Son will be.” The people knew exactly because God told them. Even people in the Gospel Lesson today recognized that. Okay, what does that mean that God pinpointed the exact location?
First of all it’s just more proof that Jesus is whom He said He was, the Son of God, the Shepherd, the Savior. God said it would begin in Bethlehem and it did. So, anyone who claims to be a savior but is not from that city isn’t. Throw out Mohammed; throw out Joseph Smith; throw out all false prophets like those of the 80’s and 90’s, the Rev. Moons and David Koreshes. If you are looking for the Savior you will only find him coming from Bethlehem. Anyone else is a liar and deceiver. God doesn’t leave matters of faith and salvation to chance; He tells you directly. Therefore, you know for sure whom to believe and whom to follow.
Secondly, apply that to your life in general. If the Savior was born in that Bethlehem – which He was – and if that child of Bethlehem was destined to do for God’s people what they couldn’t – which God promised – then you can live in heavenly security and peace in the new year. No matter what takes place, God has set it for He does not leave things to chance but governs them according to His saving will. Everything will work out for Ruler born in Bethlehem, “will stand and shepherd you in the strength of the Lord, you will live securely, and you will find your peace in Him”
So, approach the year in confidence and trust, knowing that in the midst of the confusing things of our time, your God is not one of them. He does not leave things to chance, but by His divine governance sets in motion that which will bring about His saving will in your life. That’s what the birth of Jesus, according to this lesson can tell you about the year that lies ahead.
TR. But unless you believe in Him, these blessings can’t be yours. That’s brought out in the Gospel Lesson. After Jesus’ birth, during the time of His earthly ministry, we are told that people had mixed opinions about Him. John writes, “Some of the people said, ‘This is truly the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Surely the Christ does not come from Galilee, does he? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Christ comes from David’s descendants and from the little town of Bethlehem where David lived?’ So the people were divided because of him.” (John 7:41-43)
II. God has made a place for us with Him. It depends on what you think about Jesus.
In his book of the Bible John writes quite a bit about the reactions of people to that Baby who was born in the manger at Bethlehem. Already in the first few verses of his Gospel account he said this about the Lord Jesus, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet, to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
Some people believed in Jesus as God’s Son and some didn’t. Many came up with other explanations as to who He was, but they refused to accept Him as God’s Son in the flesh, even though it was clear through His words and His deeds who he was. It’s as though He wore a name tag, but people did not truly recognize Him.
Think of it this way. The story is told of a man who delivered an address at a large social function. When he finished the engagement he was on his way home on the train. He was surprised when some of the passengers called him by name. Had he somehow become a celebrity over night? When he got home, he discovered that he had forgotten to remove his name tag. So people knew who he was but they really didn’t know him.
The same is true with Jesus. He too wore a name tag, if you will – His words, His deeds, and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies which He matched. They knew Him but some didn’t really know him, and many others simply rejected what they heard and saw. Some believe and some do not.
What we have is a paradox, a yes-and-no situation. Yes, the people recognized Jesus as someone different, someone special, someone closely connected with God. Who else could do the things He could do or say the things He could if He were not closely connected with God. Yes, many people recognized Jesus, but they really didn’t know Him. The same is true today.
But the lesson also shows some did receive Him. They not only recognized who He was, but they admitted how much they needed Him as the Savior who came to take away their sin. Those who received Him He made His own, offering them what they could not earn themselves – life with God and a place with Him in heaven.
Every year it’s the same until the Lord Jesus returns. This year will be no different. Some will receive Him in faith; some will not. But to those who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God, children for whom God has made a place with Him. Will that place be yours some day? It depends on what you think of Jesus.
TR. The stumbling block for many appears to be in the fact that He was born a man. But it had to be that way and our Epistle Lesson pointed out the reasons. It said, “Since the children share flesh and blood, he also shared the same flesh and blood, so that throughdeath he could destroy the one who had the power of death….For this reason, he had to become like his brothers in every way…in order that he…could pay for the sins of the people.
III. God was born a man to help us.
There’s a lot in those words, but basically they say because we were unable to free ourselves from sin, death, and the devil, God came as a man to do it for us. And I especially would like to draw your attention to the last words of this lesson. They read, “Indeed, because he suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Since Jesus was born a true human being, He experienced all the things that we do. He knows what it’s like to suffer and to be tempted. Think how comforting it is to know that.
Experience is valuable; it helps you help others. For example, while we may genuinely feel for those who are experiencing pain or difficulty, we never understand what they are going through until we have been through it ourselves. You may feel for those who have lost a spouse through cancer, but someone who has actually lost a spouse to cancer is best able to help another because he’s gone through the same thing. Experience helps one help others.
We might feel at times that the Lord in heaven cannot possibly understand what we are going through in life. How can He who knows no pain and knows no sorrow understand the pain I am feeling or the sorrow I am enduring?
But Jesus knows what it is like, not only because He is God and knows everything, but because He became a man who was tempted in every way like we are. Not only did He endure everything that we endure, but He promises to help us conquer everything, especially temptation since He conquered it for us. God was born a man to help us. He is Immanuel – God with us. And so it will be in the New Year. God grant us that comfort, joy, and assurance in faith for Jesus’ sake.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
You can also find us on Facebook
The Second Sunday of Christmas January 3, 2021
“He had to become like His brothers in every way, in order that…He could pay for the sins of the people. Indeed…He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:17-18
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“Praise the LORD from the heavens. Praise Him all His angels. Praise the LORD from the earth, mountains and all hills, kings of the earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. Praise the LORD” (Psalm 148).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
Born to Be Our Brother. Lying in Bethlehem’s manger on Christmas Eve was a genuine wonder. By a miracle of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary conceived and gave birth to a child. The Son of God had come to earth and had taken on human flesh and blood. God certainly could have come in any form. Yet, in order to save the world from sin, it was crucial that He become human like those whom He wanted to save.
When Mary held the baby Jesus in her arms she held human flesh and blood. Yet, that baby was more than mere flesh and blood; He was the divine Son of God. The Son of God loved us weak human beings so much that He was willing to humble Himself to the point of becoming our brother so that He might suffer and die for us. Too often we take this for granted. Don’t! Like the song writer said, “Is not this a wonder?”
Therefore we pray: Almighty God, You have filled us with the new light of the Word who became flesh and lived among us. May we never take the miracle of the incarnation lightly but glorify You always for it. Amen.
T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y
The Old Testament Lesson: Micah 5:2-5
God pinpoints in prophecy the birthplace of the Savior. As the eternal Shepherd, born in lowly circumstances in a small Judean town, He provides protection and peace for His flock.
The Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 2:10-18
Jesus shared in our humanity. Although He was true God, He took on the human nature so that he might pay for the sins of the human race. As our brother according to His flesh, He understands our situations and can help us.
The Gospel Lesson: John 7:40-43
An encounter with Jesus calls for a response. In Jesus’ day some responded in faith while others approached Him with skepticism and unbelief, giving other explanations as to who He was.
O u r P r a c t i c e o f H o l y C o m m u n i o n
Out of deep love for the truth of God’s Word and precious souls, we follow the practice of Close Communion in our congregation. This has been the practice of Christians for centuries and reflects the Bible’s teaching on unity of faith in the reception of the Supper (1 Cor.10:17). It does not judge a person’s heart but anticipates agreement in that which God says. Since we do not wish to put anyone in the position of declaring such agreement with us before study in the Word is possible, we ask that only those who are communicant members of this or another Wisconsin Synod or ELS congregation come to receive the Sacrament.
The Organist: Jane Rips The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Point to Ponder: “This New Year closes one chapter of Christians’ lives and places them before the opening of another. It reminds them of the rapid flight of time, of the end of their earthly pilgrimage, and of eternity. The solemn reflections thus awakened in them they do not brush aside with a few superficial New Year’s resolutions. Still less do they try to drown them in rounds of pleasure. They face them in sober mood; and their thoughts soon find expression in prayer which comforts and strengthens, which brings hope and joy. Thus a solemn occasion is transformed into a season of grace.”
Rev. Wm C. Burhop – A Perfect Prayer for New Year’s Eve from 1954
(Rev. Burhop was Pastor Lehmann’s grandfather)
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Hymn: #72
Order of Worship: The Common Service: page 15-16
Hymn of Praise: #63
Prayer of the Day
The Ministry of the Word
Song: Immanuel, God With Us
The Nicene Creed pg.18
Sermon: Today’s 3 Lessons: What Can the Birth of Jesus Tell Us about the New Year?
Our Response to the Word
Hymn: #78 (Sung in place of the Offertory)
Prayers & The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord Blesses Us
Order of Holy Communion Hymnal pages 21-23
(Visitors: Please read the box on page 2 regarding Holy Communion)
Thanksgiving Prayer & Blessing Hymnal pages 24-25
Closing Hymn: #75
C a l e n d a r & A n n o u n c e m e n t s f o r Z i o n L u t h e r a n C h u r c h
Divine Worship Service
with Holy Communion
on line – Facebook
Fellowship and Brief Bible Study
|The Epiphany of Our Lord||11 am
Midweek Bible Class
Divine Worship Service
on line – Facebook
Fellowship & Brief Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” we sing at Christmas time. Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” was a little town, but an important town too. There, in humility, the Savior of the world was born.
The Gospel Lesson: John 7:40-43 (answers are found on the back side)
- On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, what two opinions did people have of Jesus (verses 40-41)?
- What confusion about Jesus’ origin caused this conflict (verses 41-42)?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Dea Windsor; Clyde & Sharon Johnson; Dave Ballou; Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; Felicia Nichols’ family; Bill Buchanan; Norine Richardson; Barbara Long; Jodi Milam; Laurie Moon’s husband. William; Jodi’s brother and sister-in-law sick for 2 months with COVID 19; Pastor James Witt, St. Louis; Lois Wiese; Felicia Nichols, at home recovering after surgery.
Offering Envelopes for the upcoming year are in the mail boxes in the narthex. If for some reason you did not receive a set, please see Jim Wiese.
Copies of the Daily Devotions written by pastor this past week will be found in the narthex.
Thank You very much for your kind holiday greetings and gifts by which you have remembered our family again this Christmas. Your words of Christmas greetings and expressions of thoughtfulness and care throughout the year are greatly appreciated. May the Lord bless you and your families with a rich measure of His grace in the days that lie ahead. A blessed New Year to you in Christ! Pastor, Elizabeth and family.
Health Ordinance With Springfield and the Greene County Health Dept. extending the mask requirements until April, we will continue wearing masks in the worship service. You will find masks, disposable gloves, and sanitizer in the narthex and the fellowship hall for your use. Please, continue to watch your physical distancing, side to side and front to back. We are not passing the offering plate during the service at this time, but it will be found at the door upon leaving the sanctuary.
The Week in Review
Last Sunday’s Worship Attendance: 16; Sunday Bible Class: 9; Midweek Bible Class: no class; Sunday Offering: $1,980; Christmas Eve Worship Attendance: 22; Offering: $1675.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Sunday After the Epiphany (Series B): Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-12; Matthew 2:1-12
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- Some thought He was the Prophet Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18. Others thought He was the Christ, God’s Anointed. The irony is that Jesus is both.
- People knew Jesus had grown up in Galilee, but Micah had prophesied that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. People in Jerusalem, only a few miles from Bethlehem, did not know Jesus had been born there.
This week I am praying for……