Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As I sit and look out my window in the office, it’s snowing. Quite hard, in fact. I rather like snow. I never fully realized that until I moved here where our winters are so mild and the snow never sticks around for more than a few weeks or a couple months at most. I like how white it looks. How it makes everything look so clean and fresh and colours stand out brightly on that contrast of bright white. Nothing is better than a clear blue sky, with the sun shining on a field of white snow. I don’t really care what Greg says, I think that’s marvellous.
It also makes me think of an analogy that Diane has used so often in Bible studies. That the righteousness of Christ, given to us through faith in Baptism, is a lot like that blanket of snow in winter. Underneath the ground is dead. Frozen with cold. The grass is brown and brittle, the flowers have long since shrivelled up and died. All of that is covered by the snow. So you & I have been covered by Christ. He is like the blanket covering over our dead carcasses, our brown and brittle good works, the flowers of our own righteousness that has long since shrivelled up and died. Yet Christ covers all of that, all our sin, all our death, over with Himself, so that when God looks at us He no longer sees our darkness and death, but only Christ. God preaches to us, saying, “though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
That’s the great gift that God sent His Son to bring us. The birth that we remember today is the birth of our Saviour, who is also our God, who died so that we may be covered with His righteousness. I know you might not be able to read it, due to formatting problems and two different office programs trying to talk to each other, but your bulletin cover says, “The grace of God has appeared” and the rest of the verse says, “bringing salvation for all people.” (Titus 2:11) Tonight we celebrate that grace of God that has appeared, and that it’s appeared in one person—Christ. He’s born to be our substitute. He’s born to bear the sin of the world upon His shoulders.He’s born to bleed for you, to suffer for you. He’s born to die for your sin. He’s born to be the unblemished, innocent Lamb of God. Jesus is born to take your sin to the cross, and give to you His righteousness. Because you have His righteousness through faith, you have everything that belongs to Jesus. You now stand in His place to receive the blessing God has already given to His Son—resurrection from the dead and life everlasting with Him in all eternity.
We give thanks to God for all His blessings of the past year. We also look to Him for strength to persevere the challenges and the sufferings of life. We look to Him who suffered for our sakes, who bore all suffering for us, and was held and uplifted through it all by the hand of His Father. We pray to heed His example and follow Him. We might not know where the Lord is leading us in the future, and at times that road might look dark and scary, but we know this one thing: Jesus is with us. He was born for us. To bring us the grace of God. We are covered with His righteousness, and He will lead and guide us through all things. So we can look forward through the challenges, knowing His mighty hand is supporting us, and we can look forward to the all the great blessings that God has yet in store for us.
Pastor Tim Schneider