How many Christmas gifts have broken already? Many do break very quickly, sometimes within the first day of opening. How many gifts have you returned? Millions of dollars-worth of gifts will be returned in the US even before the new-year ball falls. How many gifts do you remember? Sure we remember some but most are forgotten. So as we begin another year of God’s grace it is good for us to remember that the blessing of Christ at Christmas does not break, cannot be exchanged for anything better and is the best gift that we dare not forget. So we continue to give glory to God for what he has done for us in Jesus. And we give glory to God by continuing to share the Savior with others.

While Jesus was still just days old, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem to consecrate him to the Lord according to the Law. There, in Jerusalem was a man named Simeon who was promised that he would not die until he saw the coming of the Christ. This is what happened when he saw Jesus.

Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation,

which you have prepared in the sight of all people,

a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:27-32

Simeon praised God because the Sovereign Lord had kept his promise to send the Savior for the world, for Israel, those waiting for the promise and for the Gentiles who too would come to know the true God in Jesus. It was the most natural thing to do, and something he longed to do, to give glory to God for Jesus, the Lord had come.

We too gathered to give glory to God for the birth of Jesus our Savior. In fact, it is quite appropriate for us to give glory and praise to God for all the blessings we have received, the greatest being Jesus. But look at the blessings we have to praise God for at the end of 2017. We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation when God brought forth the Gospel of his Word in the preaching and teaching of reformers like Martin Luther, a heritage that still is ours today. We celebrated 75 years of God’s grace upon this small flock in La Crescent, MN. And we officially ended the 5 year vision of the congregation by accomplishing the building of a new early learning center.

How can we not help but give glory to God for all that he has done, seeing and celebrating the birth of the Christ-child once again, and all the blessings that he has produced in the year 2017. So, we have seen the Christ-child and all the blessings that flow from him…now what?

Also in Jerusalem, at the same time as Simeon, was a woman named Anna. She too had been waiting a long time for the Messiah to come. She too had the privilege to see the Christ-child and she too could not help but give glory to God. But then what? Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:38 Anna definitely gave glory to God for the Christ-child. But she also spoke about him to those who were waiting for the Savior. Can you imagine her excitement and zeal to tell others? The biggest thing that ever happened to the world, and she had the privilege to tell everyone.

We have seen the Christ-child…now what? We have celebrated 500 years, 75 years, accomplished a 5 year vision…now what? Certainly like Simeon, if the Lord calls us home to heaven after celebrating the birth of Jesus, we will be blessed beyond what we can imagine. But since he hasn’t, it’s not time to die, or give up, or say that we have accomplished so much, let’s take a year off. It is time for us to be like Anna. It is time for us to give glory to God by speaking about our Savior to others.

It is time for us to come together as a Christian family to grow in Christ and serve in Christ and love in Christ. It is time for us to speak and to encourage one another in Christ. It is time for us to speak to the little ones and their families who will come through the doors of First Steps Early Learning Center. It is time for us to speak to little ones and their families of our congregation. It is time for us to speak with the elderly and dying. It is time for us to speak to the lonely and depressed. It is time for us to speak of our Savior Jesus.

Now what? That’s what…we do now. We give glory to God for the Christ-child Jesus and all the blessings of 2017. And we give glory to God and speak about Jesus for all who need to hear. Our eyes have seen his salvation. But until he dismisses us from this world, we will continue to share what we see and believe in Jesus.

Keep Christ First,

Pastor Chris Christenson