Excerpts from God With Us

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“The Savior is born unto you in Bethlehem, the house of bread, on earth. It is no coincidence that He lacked a crib and was placed instead into a feeding trough. He was born unto you to be bread: bread for beasts, bread for wolves, and bread for sheep. He comes in His body to feed you into life, to slake your thirst, to satisfy your soul. He is put into a manger, not only because He is rejected by men and there is no room for Him in Bethlehem’s inns but also because He gives Himself to you, as food, on earth.”

“We do not put a statue of a baby in the manger because we think that Jesus is still in the manger. We put a statue in the manger to remember that Jesus was a baby, that He took up our flesh and our burden. An empty manger just won’t do. The fact that God has a body, was born of a woman, for us, is not a tiny detail in the story or somehow not the important part. It is the essence of the story. In the same way, we do not put a statue of Jesus on the cross because we think that He is not risen. We know and we rejoice that He is risen. But an empty cross just won’t do. The fact that He was crucified in His body is not just a detail or somehow the prelude to the more significant event. It is the essence of the story. We preach Christ crucified.”

“How might we keep the Law and love one another without fail, without holding back? Setting our will to do it or making promises and resolutions has never worked before, and it won’t work now. How might we keep the Law which we’ve never yet kept before? By putting on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is it. It is the only way. It is in being loved, being forgiven, being fed the Holy Supper that not only is sin forgiven but faith is also strengthened. In that—those things that God has given for His Church, for her faith and life—the Holy Spirit takes up residence and works do follow. The only way for sinners like us to keep the Law is to have the Law kept for us.”

“The boys [of Bethlehem] gave up their lives while the fullness of God hidden in Mary’s babe slipped off in the night. What kind of a God is this who lets the babies die? What kind of a reward is this for David’s city? Where is the peace pronounced by angels to the shepherds in Bethlehem’s fields? Where is God’s good will toward men? The answer is not very satisfying to our intellect: the ways of God are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. But it is satisfying to faith. And if you think that you have plumbed those depths, that you understand Him, that His ways and thoughts make sense, then you have committed idolatry. You are worshiping a figment of your imagination which you call God but who looks and thinks like you. Repent. He is not fully comprehensible and we cannot judge Him. We have no right to make demands or to insist on what seems just to us. We submit in faith and wait for His goodness to be revealed.”

-David H. Petersen, author of God With Us: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany Sermons

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