December 25, 2018
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus dwells among us. This is a very old promise.
In the Old Testament when God dealt with His chosen people of Israel, He dwelt among them in His tabernacle. The tabernacle was a portable church building, an elaborate tent really, that always symbolized and often revealed the real presence of God among His people.
The cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud rested on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. The Israelites set out whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle throughout all the stages of their journey. If the cloud was not taken up, they did not set out until the day it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey. (Exodus 40:34-38)
This divine cloud showed the Israelites Immanuel—God with us. God chose to be present where the sacrifices were made. Thousands of lambs and rams and bulls and birds were killed and their blood used in ceremonies to point ahead to Jesus.
Jesus dwelt among us in the flesh, so that He might sacrifice His perfect body for our sinful flesh. Today we mark the beginning of His earthly journey. And for three decades He dwelt among His people, so that He might die. And die He did. But that wasn't the end. He returned to life and continues to dwell among us today.
[Jesus said:] "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)
In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son. (Hebrews 1:2)
Jesus said, "Feed My lambs." (John 21:15)
God is with us. And He dwells among us today. He does this in special ways, so that He might speak to us, so that He might feed us. His dwelling and speaking and feeding has one purpose: to forgive us our sins. His dwelling among us in Word and Supper brings us comfort.
The holy Babe of Bethlehem is grown up and is here with us now. The fact that we cannot see His face with our eyes or touch His feet with our fingers doesn't change His promise: "I am with you always."
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.