A Christmas Sermonette…
As the opening narration for the children’s service will tell us, our Christmas Eve service is constructed around Dr. Martin Luther’s hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come,” echoing the Christmas angel delivering the good news of the Savior’s birth.
I would summarize my remarks this evening with the statement, “Yes, We Believe in Angels.” Maybe you saw it too–this last week a Fox News anchor was interviewing the leader of an atheist movement in America. This movement is among the liberal groups more and more trying to secularize and despiritualize our nation’s culture, including getting Christ out of Christmas. One atheist (!) Christmas display titled “Happy Winter Solstice” had a poster which said, “There is no God, there are no angels, there is no heaven, there is no hell…” and so on. How sad that the devil blinds people to the truths of God and His holy Word.
For our part, as Christians we believe in the supernatural. We believe in a “spirit world.” We believe in angels—that is, we believe that angels exist. As the Bible makes clear, the purpose of angels was and is chiefly to praise God and also to serve Him. Angels serve God as His messengers. Then also angels are sent to serve Christian believers. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14) “He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).
“He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep
you in all your ways.
They shall bear you up
in their hands,
lest you dash your
foot against a stone”
Angels as spirit-beings are generally invisible, but from the Bible we can say: not always. Think of the role of angels on that first Christmas Eve. As God’s messengers they had a message for all the world to hear. The message was to announce the undoing of that first angel who came from heaven above to Earth below. You know to what I am referring? The first angel mentioned in the Bible is a fallen angel, the devil, Satan, the enemy of God and of the foremost of God’s creation, man. Satan rebelled against God and came from heaven above to Earth beneath BECAUSE God cast him out of heaven with the rest of the angels who had rebelled.
Then, after sin entered the world by the devil’s trickery, God cast Adam and Eve out of their earthly paradise, the Garden of Eden. And do you recall how God kept man from reentering the Garden? From heaven above to Earth below God sent Cherubim angels to guard the entrance to the Garden and the way to the tree of life. In other words, not all angels came from heaven above to Earth below bearing good tidings of great joy.
Christmas then was not the first time an angel came from heaven to Earth. The good news of Christmas, though, is why the angel came. As we heard in our Midweek Advent services, God used angels to bring special announcements to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and also to bring announcements to Joseph and to Mary herself, telling them of the coming birth of the Christchild. Then on that first Christmas night God used an angel — soon joined by a multitude of them! — to announce the good news that, just as prophesied, Jesus had been born to save sinners from the disastrous damages caused by that fallen angel Satan.
Think of one other thing in this connection: The birth of Jesus into the flesh was not the first time He had come from heaven above to Earth. Jesus was and is the eternal Son of God. In Old Testament history we read many times that God sent His angel, or the Angel of the Lord, to guide and protect His people. That Angel was Jesus, but in spirit-form. The miracle of Christmas which the Christmas angel had to tell was not that Jesus came to Earth for the first time, but how and why He came – as a human being “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
To summarize, at Christmas we celebrate the holy fact that Jesus came from heaven above to Earth beneath so that we might go from Earth [beneath] to heaven [above]! We sinners are of the Earth since we are born of sinful human parents and – as God told Adam and Eve – they and all their children must return to earth, to the dust from whence they came when God first created them. And yet BECAUSE OF CHRISTMAS we can look forward to going from dust and Earth to heaven — all because of Jesus, His love and forgiveness.
YES, WE BELIEVE IN ANGELS. May the message you children have to tell us again this evening help all of us rejoice anew in the glad tidings of great joy which the Christmas angels brought to all people on Earth. Amen.