There is a traditional English carol called “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day.” It’s a carol that tells the story of Jesus’ life, as told by Jesus. In its full version it takes you from the Incarnation through the Ascension. In the refrain at the end of each stanza, each piece of His redemptive work, Jesus sings “This have I done for my true love.” What we have heard tonight in Holy Scripture, what we have sung of together, is what Jesus has done for you, His true love. Tonight, you heard salvation history. You heard of the Fall into sin and God’s promise of a Savior from sin, and the death which sin brought with it. You heard that God’s Light will break into our darkness, bringing with it the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace. You heard that the Light will shine forth in little Bethlehem, the Son of a Virgin, conceived by the Holy Ghost. This has Christ done for His true love!
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.