Homily for Christmas Eve

Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ:

It was a sad night, a night of gloom and despair, a night of regret and remorse, of shame and disappointment, the first night that Adam and Eve slept outside the doors of that heavenly paradise called Eden. “O unholy night, when the stars refused to shine, it is the night of our first parents’ death.” It was a sad night for the whole world, for every descendant of that cursèd and unholy couple, for God had pronounced a verdict on all humanity because of them, and that verdict was “guilty.”

Expelled from the Garden, removed from the gracious presence of their Creator, Adam and Eve would have to suffer the consequences of their disobedience. No longer painless, child bearing would forever remind Eve of her sin; no longer effortless, work would forever remind Adam of his failure to resist the devil.

It was a sad night, to be sure, but it was not without joy, not without a silver lining. For God had pronounced another word to them: a word of comfort, a word of reconciliation. “He will crush your head and you will bruise his heel,” said the Lord to the crafty serpent. One of Eve’s children would undo the damage that the devil had done through Adam and Eve. The world had a glimmer of hope.

It was a sad night, a night of gloom and despair, a night of regret and remorse, of shame and disappointment, the night that the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, the child of promise, took the life of his brother Abel in cold blood. How his parents had hoped that Cain would be the one to crush the Serpent’s head, the one who would fulfill God’s promise and remove the curse. And how terribly he had let them down. With Cain banished and Abel dead, fulfillment would have to wait.

It was a sad night, a night of gloom and despair, a night of regret and remorse, of shame and disappointment, that night the firstborn son of David breathed his last. “O unholy night, when the stars refused to shine, it is the night of David’s son’s death.” He died because of his father’s sins. David had to live with the knowledge that his son was dead because he could not control himself, because he could not tame his desire for what did not belong to him.

King David sacrificed the lives of his own son and of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah for a few moments of pleasure. And now he too was living with the consequences. There are always consequences for sin. It was a sad night indeed, but it was not without hope. For David repented of his sins, and heard from the mouth of Nathan the Prophet a word of comfort and peace: “Your sins are forgiven you.” The Promise was not to be fulfilled in David, or his firstborn son, or even in Solomon. Fulfillment would have to wait. Death still reigned. Adam’s children still slept outside of the Garden.

It was and always is a sad night, a night of gloom and despair, a night of regret and remorse, of shame and disappointment, when the children of men walk in the footsteps of their father the devil, when they say “no” to God’s Word and “Yes” to the desires of their flesh. It is a sad night indeed, whenever men disobey God, refuse his blessings, and break His commandments. It is a sad night when daggers from our mouths fly at the backs of our neighbors, when we fear more the reproach of others than we do the reproach and punishment of God. It is a sad night, and it is the night that you live in day after day, for you are heirs of Adam’s curse, every one of you, and his blood runs in your veins.

But neither are you without cause for hope; neither are you without cause for joy, for there was another night, a holy night, when the stars shone brightly, and the angels sang with joy. It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. It was a happy night, a night full of joy and holiness, full of peace and mirth, that night when the firstborn Son of Mary was born in a Bethlehem stable. For it was the night that the doors to Eden opened once again to let in Adam’s fallen children. It was the night that God gave to the world a full and holy cure for sin and death in the person of His Son.

There in the arms of the Virgin Mary lay the fulfillment of God’s promises to Adam and Eve, to Moses and David, and to all of his people. “He shall crush your head and you shall bruise his heel.” “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel.” Eve’s promised seed had come to undo the damage that the Serpent had done through Adam and Eve. A happy night indeed, and one worthy of remembering year after year, as we do in the Church.

It is that holy night that gives us reason to be joyful on this night, to sing God’s praises, to give thanks to Him who is “God with us.” It gives us reason to defy the devil, who wants to rob us of the joy that Christ would give to us. In the child born to Mary, in Jesus the Son of God, and specifically in His death, the Father has pronounced another verdict upon his creation: “not guilty.”

To Him we sinners run, to Him we cling, to Him we look for the gracious face of our heavenly Father, and to Him we turn for life and forgiveness. To Him, with the Father and the Holy Spirit we raise our glad voices, and sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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