Pastor's Pen for 11/21/2017She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Advent is getting us ready for the coming of the King. Christmas draws near. Who? What? Why? Do not be fooled by the fake Christmases pushed by our world. Fake Christmases  are  those  without  JESUS. The  “who”   of Christmas? Christmas is all about JESUS! Through the pages of the

Old Testament, the anticipation for the birth of the long awaited Messiah has been building. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end. (Isaiah 9) Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is the Son of Man. The two natures of Christ. The Second person of the Trinity come down out of heaven to make His dwelling among us.

The “why” of Christmas? God's promise to send His Son as Savior is the focus of the Old Testament. Jesus comes to stand in the place of sinners. For in him the whole fullness of  deity dwells bodily.  (Colossians 2)  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2) Jesus’ name means, “the Lord saves”. Saving is what Jesus does. Jesus is the only One who could rescue sinners  from sin. No  man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life. (Psalm 49)

The “what” of Christmas? Forgiveness. Jesus the Savior comes  to  pay  the  price  for  all  your  Law  breaking. When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4) The baby born of the Virgin Mary. To redeem you – pay the price that only JESUS could pay. Jesus took the journey from heaven down to earth. Jesus’ road is one that He must walk alone. Jesus will not stay in the safety of the manger. Jesus marches His way to Calvary to shed His holy blood on the Cross. For the wood of the manger MUST give way to the wood of the Cross. Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ...Who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1) From Jesus’ birth to Jesus’ death, from Jesus’ resurrection and Ascension, Christ does the work of salvation full and free. The salvation that Jesus won He gives away freely through the preaching of His Word. As it was that first Christmas, the Angel preaches the birth of Christ the Lord into ears and hearts. Good News of great joy, for unto you the Savior has come.

JESUS is the gift of Christmas. Jesus comes to be born in you through Holy Baptism. Your baptism day is Christmas for you. Jesus gifted to  you. Forgiveness flowing through water and word in the fount of life.  When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3)

Do not be fooled by fake Christmas. Rather for Christians Christmas is filled up with JESUS. He is the reason for all of the celebration. Good News of Great Joy. Christmas is brought to your ears as the Gospel is preached to you. That your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake is Good News of Great Joy. Christians gather around Jesus to celebrate God come down to save. Gather around Jesus. Gather around God's Word. Gather around the pulpit. Gather around the Baptismal Font. Gather around the Altar. Jesus is giving away Christmas gifts of life eternal to you. Happy Advent. Merry Christmas. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Lance D. Berndt is a pastor of Zion Lutheran Church ( in Omaha, NE.