Same Old Story
J.K. Wilhelm Loehe, Pastor
2 January 2019
There is no further divine revelation possible once the Son has revealed Himself to us in these last days (Heb 1:1-2). This is why the church in her preaching and teaching is restricted to what might be called "the same old thing." We do not mean this phrase as it usually is; as a complaint. Like: "Oh, dad, are you wearing that same old cardigan again?!"

One Christmas Eve after church, a man greeted the pastor at the door and remarked, "You never preach anything new, Reverend! Every time I come here it is the same old thing. You always preach about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem." The pastor replied quietly, "Do you think it might be because you only come here on Christmas eve?" Oh, perhaps.

You say that you want something new? What would the new thing be that the church ought to proclaim at Christmas, other than the birth of Christ of Mary? How would we be improving what God has spoken? Who is it that claims to improve the Word of God? None but our enemy, who overcame the first Adam and who is now overcome by the second Adam born for us. As soon as we would claim to have a new Word from God, we have just told God that His Son, who is His Word and final revelation, is no longer good enough for us. Every sin of this sort attempts to replace the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of God's nature (Heb 1:3). This is a monstrosity of blasphemy; an obliteration of the first commandment. By wanting something different, something new, to replace the story of the Child born for us, we, with our puffed-up reason and zealous piety, are claiming to be our own god. We're going to do our own talking.

The story isn't about us. It is for us. Do you see the difference? God is the subject of the story. Not us. It is for us. We hardly even get a mention in the text. Even the mention of the worship of the incarnate Son is the worship of angels, not of us humans. And it is just as well, isn't it? Every time we try to rewrite the thing, we make such an abysmal mess of it! That rewrite began in the Garden and we dare not go back there. We must turn our backs on this false and death-dealing de-revelation spoken by our enemy, believed by our forbears, and perpetuated by our blasphemous desire to talk God out of the same old saving story in Christ.

The ultimate culmination of the story centers on the purpose for which Christ became incarnate. He comes to make purification for sins. This is a washing away, a cleansing, so that sins are no more, through the work of the One who is Himself the substantial God. His mother must be the mother of God, if we are to be saved by this Child born to her. The God who is born of Mary in the shadows of a Judean stable is the same God who made purification of sins by being hung up on a cross some thirty years later.

So we have reached the last day; a day made complete by the speaking of God on the lips of His Son, who is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, who upholds the universe by the word of his power. In these last days God has spoken to us by His Son. Alleluia!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"How does freedom from sin come about? When we hear His Word-for instance, that Christ was born of Mary, suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, rose from the dead on the third day, etc. 'Oh,' it is said, 'I know all this very well! It is an old story. The pope, cardinals, and bishops are also familiar with it.' Indeed, they do know it. But learn this lesson of the children, for these words tell us how we are redeemed and set free. 'Yes,' they say, 'these sayings and words are so common that they do not do the work.' The children are to be highly commended for praying these words and also for understanding them sooner; for the more learned and the smarter we old fools claim to be, the less we know and understand about this subject.

"To become free implies that you fix your thoughts on something else than that which lies in you, in the papacy, in the saints, or in Moses. You must direct your thoughts to something more exalted than all this, namely, the Son of God. Who is He? In the Creed we say: 'Conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of Mary, died, etc.' Note well that you will really be pious and free from sin if you believe that Christ makes you free by dying for you, shedding His blood, rising from the dead, and sitting at the right hand of God. These statements of the Creed point me to the Son, who makes me free."

Martin Luther, 
Sermons on the Gospel of St. John, 8.32
Luke 2:25-38

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel."
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Most glorious Trinity, in Your mercy we commit to You this day our bodies and souls, all our ways and going, all our deeds and purposes. We pray You, so open our hearts and mouths that we may praise Your name, which above all names is holy. And since You have created for us the praise of Your holy name, grant that our lives may be for Your honor and that we may serve You in love and fear; for You, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.

For Ileene Robinson, that the Lord Jesus would grant her strength and healing

For Jack Lanstad, who is gravely ill, that the Lord of life would grant him a full recovery

For those who fear the trials of a new year, that the Lord of all future days would grant them courage and strength to meet these last days
Art: MARATTI, Carlo  The Holy Night (1650s)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2019
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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