"There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes we also stumble. Therefore, the Sacrament is given as a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself so that it will not fall back in such a battle but become ever stronger and stronger." From the Large Catechism Part V: The Sacrament of the Altar.
A FaceBook friend posted this as his status today, and it struck me how appropriate these words were for today. We were having a discussion just yesterday about how hard we see Satan working in the world today, and here we are reminded - in Luther's words - about the temptations of the devil and how weary we become.
Here we are, approaching the 4th Sunday in Advent, preparing for Christmas Eve service and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, and Satan is working so hard to make us miss the whole point of what we celebrate. For we celebrate not a cute, cuddly baby born in a barn with cute, adorable animals, but the coming of God in the flesh - incarnate - not because it is "cute" but because we are such wretched sinners that we need God to be among us - the word made flesh, to show us how to live, and to die for our sins.
As we celebrate Christmas, we should take a look at the temptations that we have let lead us astray - success, personal agendas, our need for power and control, money - and instead look at what we are called to give up. Jesus came to give up his life; what are you called to give up? In last Sunday's Gospel text, John calls on anyone who has two coats to give one away. Rather than looking at what you might get for Christmas this year, why not look at what you can give away instead?
It is easy to fall into the temptations of the devil and the world - they look good, they feel good, but they are just that - temptations of the devil and the world. Look instead to the manger - look at what God gave us, look to the cross - look at what Jesus gave up.
May you be blessed during this Advent season, and may this time give you the opportunity to look at your own life. See what you can give up, how you can help someone else, rather than looking to your own wish list for Christmas gifts.