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A blessed Christmas to all of you “for today (many years ago) in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12). The life, death and resurrection of Jesus came as a blessing to the world even though the world didn’t deserve it and, even worse, was unreceptive to receiving Him as the gift that He was for them (see John 1:10-13).


Increasingly, the world in which we live today seems very unreceptive to that same Gospel, a message that has been such a blessing to the world for more than two millennia. Instead of receiving the Good News of Jesus like Mary and Joseph, the wise men, or the shepherds, the world in which we live is violently suspicious of the message of the Messiah like Herod in Matthew 2. In a speech last month, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito warned our nation, saying,

In certain quarters, religious liberty has fast become a disfavored right,” Alito said. “For many today, religious liberty is not a cherished freedom. It’s often just an excuse for bigotry and it can’t be tolerated even when there’s no evidence that anybody has been harmed.[1]

Later in the speech citing COVID 19 and state overreach, he was even more concerned when he said,

The resulting (state) restrictions “blatantly discriminated against houses of worship,” Alito said Thursday, adding that he believed religious liberty is in danger of becoming a “second-class right.”[2]

How did the cherished right of religious liberty and religious assembly become anathema in the culture in which we live? That discussion is for another paper. What remains vital today is first, our awareness of the fact that religious liberty, especially the liberty to believe and teach the whole counsel of God faithfully according to the Bible, that right is under direct assault. Much like Herod’s overt violence against the Christ child that first Christmas (See again Matt. 2:13-18), there are many today who would joyfully welcome the silencing of the Christmas message and the Church that is dedicated to proclaiming that message for all to hear. Like Joseph who gallantly protected Jesus and Mary that first Christmas, we as believers should also put to use our God-given freedoms to fight for our right to be the Church in this culture for the sake of the culture and the mission of the Church. But, even more importantly than that, the MAIN MESSAGE FOR THIS DAY, no matter what is happening in our world, is this: There is no Herod, no Caesar, no Pharaoh, no tyrant, no dictator, nor even a duly elected president, or elected official that can stop the persevering power and blessing of the message of Christmas of coming for you, for me, for all.

Today’s the day to rejoice in the fact that God’s love keeps coming no matter the time, no matter the place. God’s love for you comes no matter the struggles in your life or in your family. God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness keeps coming no matter the foolishness or the bravado of the culture in which we live. Today’s a day to rejoice with those first shepherds on Christmas day. Today’s the day to remember my favorite Bible verse from Rom. 8:31-38.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?....

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Merry Christmas! And may the certainty of God’s love for you in Jesus Christ give you strength, comfort, and confidence this day to face whatever comes tomorrow. For, nothing can overpower the persevering power and blessing of Christmas IN CHRIST FOR YOU!

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz serves as executive director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty.

 

[1] https://nypost.com/2020/11/13/justice-alito-warns-of-threats-to-religious-liberty-in-speech/

[2] https://nypost.com/2020/11/13/justice-alito-warns-of-threats-to-religious-liberty-in-speech/

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