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Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Matthew 1:20-23, where the Bible says,   

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

 

One of the hardest things about leaving the Lutheran Hour for my work in Washington D.C. is that I’m not preaching much during Advent and Christmas like I used to do when I was a pastor or when I was behind the Lutheran Hour microphone. I really miss that. Now, I realize that it is just as special to be in the congregation as a hearer of the Christmas good news being proclaimed. But there’s also something special about leading a group of people into the presence of the Lord who is still Immanuel, “God with us.” There is something amazing about proclaiming to anyone who will listen that Jesus Christ came to forgive our sins; He also came so that, through all the struggles of this life, we could know and trust that God is indeed with us each and every step of the way. When I speak around the country, I often ask questions like these: “Aren’t you glad that Christmas comes every year?” “Aren’t you awed by Good Friday, and overwhelmed by Easter joy each year?” I can’t imagine facing the craziness of this world (Washington D.C. included) without the knowledge and confidence that comes through faith in Jesus our Savior. The virgin has indeed conceived and given birth to a son, and He is Immanuel, “God with us.” And Immanuel has an even more personal name and a more specific mission. He is Jesus, and He will save His people from their sins! Wow!

Such a message shakes us in order to wake us. Such a message roots our confidence and courage outside of ourselves in a Savior who is “Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Joseph stood at such a moment in his life in our lesson for today. The birth of Jesus was outside of his comfort zone. The comfort of Jesus was something that he would have to receive by faith alone. He could easily have thrown Mary aside, but, by God’s grace, he instead trusted in God more than he trusted in himself. Last week we heard about John the Baptist struggling with who Jesus was and what Jesus was doing. Today we see that even the first Christmas turned people’s lives upside down for their good. Let this year’s Christmas celebration challenge you to see what Jesus has done for you, and pique your interest to study His Word, not just for the 12 days of Christmas, but for each day from Christmas through Easter morning. You’ll be glad that you did because there is no other message in the world like “God is with us and God is for us in Jesus Christ!” It’s a message for you and for all!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the Christmas message that centers us each and every year. May the proclamation of Your birth be the greatest gift that we open on Christmas day. And may that message sink ever more deeply into our hearts and lives throughout the New Year. AMEN.

 

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