Video of the Children’s Christmas service here.
We are gathered here to listen to a story. It’s the story we are expecting to hear, told by the children. But it’s a story that is being told every single week that we are gathered in the Lord’s House on the Lord’s Day to receive the Lord’s Gifts. And it’s the story that Luther is telling in his great Christmas hymn, around which this service is based.
Luther tells the familiar Christmas story in song, but when he’s done with the message of the angel to the shepherds, notice what he does. “How glad we’ll be to find it so! Then with the shepherds let us go to see what God has done in sending us His own dear Son” (LSB 358:6). This is no longer a story about angels and shepherds a long time ago. Now we are in the story, seeking the Child who has been born. But, of course, we will not find Him in Bethlehem. Nor will we find Him at Calvary. But just as the angel gave the shepherds a sign so they would know where to find their Savior, so He has given us signs: water where His death and resurrection are; words where His forgiveness is; bread and wine where His body and blood are. In those places, under those wrappings, we will find and worship Him.
I am nearly certain that the shepherds would never have thought that they’d be part of a story that is being told this many hundreds of years later. I don’t know how much they knew about the story of God’s salvation, or whether they thought it was relevant to them. But now God sends His angel to them to say, “To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord.” To you. And, all of a sudden, they were in the story God was telling. God sent an angel to them, and then they became angels. Not in the winged spirit sense, but in the sense that “angel” simply means “messenger.” They went as God’s messengers telling everyone what they had seen and heard.
Except for four of them, I don’t know if these children are “little angels.” But today, here, they are: little messengers to us of the Word of God. And once you hear the Word of God—no matter how well you know it, or how relevant you think it is—once you hear the Word of God, you are part of the story that God is telling. To you is born a Savior. In that manger dark was an Infant laid by whom the heavens and earth were made (LSB 358:5). But this is only the beginning of the story, because the one who made all things, and the one who entered flesh as an infant, is also the one who suffered and died for you; who rose from the dead for you; who will come again in glory for you.
As Elizabeth said to Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what the Lord has spoken to her.” So it is for us as well. You are part of that story. It’s a story that God is telling, gathering us into His story by the Word of His promise. And blessed is the one who believes that there will be a fulfillment of everything God has said. God’s story is the story that is the story that we have to tell, and which we will tell now in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.
— Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 12/21/18