And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger.’ There are many of you in this congregation who think to yourselves: “If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby! I would have washed His linen. How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!” Yes, you would! You say that because you know how great Christ is, but if you had been there at that time you would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. Childish and silly thoughts are these! Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbors. You ought to serve them, for what you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ Himself. Let us, then, meditate upon the nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather His flesh. Look upon the baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify man. Inexpressible majesty will crush him. That is why Christ took on our humanity, save for sin, that He should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor He should console and confirm. . . . Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to this Baby and believe that He is come, not to judge you, but to save.”
From Martin Luther’s Postil Sermons
You serve Christ by serving your neighbor in need. We are having a good discussion as to how we can serve our neighbors in need in North Dakota oil fields. Housing is short and they are sleeping under bridges. But they are not needy in the terms that we think of. They need a place to stay. Like Mary and Joseph these are not homeless and destitute people. They are people that have jobs and just can’t find a place to stay. Our discussions are pointing to a need to witness to them and get them involved with a congregation. Yet someone in the conversation made this observation – ” most of our Pastors do a great job with Lutheran theology, but do little outreach outside the church building itself”.
It would fun to get some input from preachers over on the Minnesota North side. How would you deal with a massive influx of strangers into your area, many of whom can’t find a place to stay, and your parishoners may lose their houses because the rent and property values are going through the roof?