Thank you to everyone who played a part in our Christmas Eve Service, from band members to tech guys, to scripture readers. What a beautiful evening remembering together the true meaning for the Christmas season.
(We apologize for the poor recording of the music – most has been removed because of this.)
[Christmas Eve Service Script]
O Come All Ye Faithful
Tonight we tell the story, the old, old story, the story that with every telling becomes new.
The Story of Christmas begins long, long ago.
Long before the Child was Born
Long before the Prophets foretold His birth
Long before the Fall of Adam, and long before Creation,
Long before the beginning of time
God the Father, God the Spirit and God the Son, agreed upon a plan.
God would create an amazing world, full of wonders and splendours — of soaring mountains, and seething seas, of gentle summer rains and wild winter storms, of giant trees and multi-coloured flowers, a world alive with creatures great and small,
And the crown of His creation, human beings, male and female made in the image of God,
Creatures endowed with free will – a godlike capacity.
Free to enter into the Creator’ love
Free to choose good, or
…. free to choose bad,
And we know how the First Couple chose – they chose to rebel against God and it was bad: Powerful creatures able to achieve the greatest good, are also creatures able to cause the greatest evil. We as a race are those creatures and, alas, we have spawned an endless stream of hurt and hate, death and destruction.
And so the history of mankind is the history of wars and rumours of wars, of hunger and famine, of cruelty and hate, of greed and violence, of stealing and killing, of things unspeakable and dark.
Son against father, mother against daughter, husband betraying wife, endless combinations of strife. The brotherhood of man, a worthy ideal, too seldom achieved in the home and in the nation.
And all this brokenness runs through my heart too – I know it. The good that I know to do, I do not do; and the bad that I don’t want to do I do anyway. But God had a plan, and God made a promise. God would honour the free choice we make but He would also bring a lifeline for any and all who would receive it. God repeated His promise of a Saviour. Here is the promise given through Isaiah the Prophet 700 years before the birth of Jesus.
The Promise of God
Isaiah 7:14; 9:2-7
Isa. 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isa. 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, … 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
The Story of Christmas, is about God keeping His promise to the human race that has lost its way, that had lost sight of its Creator.
The story of Christmas is the mystery of God. He chose to step into the mess we made of His perfect world. He became one of us – this is what we call the Incarnation.
God the Son, the Eternal Word, who created all things, set aside His powers and His rights and became one of us — Conceived the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.
John the Gospel writer put it like this,
Tonight we tell this beautiful story one more time, in Song and in Scripture. We invite you, we invite one another, to enter into the story and feel its power and know its truth, to be renewed in its hope and in its love.
Let’s begin our singing with…
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
It happened 2000 ago. The story begins to unfold with the visit of the angel to Mary:
The Announcement to Mary
Luke 1:26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
We cannot idealize the mess we are in. If we are honest it is easy to despair. But we must tell it like it is. In the Christmas Story God begins to bring His Light into our darkness.. For some of us, the darkness seems remote; for others we know it all too well. I heard the bells on Christmas Day tells the story, bad and good. Let’s sing it together.
I Heard the Bells
Let’s return to the Story as it was unfolding long ago.
The people back then understood about the birds and the bees, where babies come from just as well as we do. The announcement by the angel made to Mary was a difficult thing for Joseph to accept. It was a cause for scandal, for anger at betrayal. God had to send a special messenger to help Joseph understand and to do the right thing by Mary and the unborn child.
Let’s hear the Scripture:
The Announcement to Joseph
Matt. 1:18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” –which means, “God with us.” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
What Child is this?
Let’s continue the story as we light the last of the Advent candles.
Advent Reading 5 – The Dietz Family
Fifth Advent Reading for Christmas Eve
First light the three purple candles, then the pink candle,
This Christmas Eve we light the white candle. This is the Christ candle. His candle is brighter because he is the light of the world! Our hope, our life, our King and our Saviour has finally come!
Luke 2:1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register.
Luke 2:4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7)
He became one of us:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The apostle writes about the amazing humility of His love:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
The birth of Jesus was is just the beginning. No one else has ever had the impact of Jesus, He has changed history and is continuing to change it. We celebrate the gift of life and hope. We light candles because God has split the darkness. We bring gifts because God has given his Son to us.
Jesus, you are the Father’s greatest gift. Your teachings, your life example are precious. Your death in our place is beyond price, for we have not been redeemed with silver and gold but with the precious blood of the Son, the Lamb of God. Your resurrection has broken the sting of death. And the gift of Your Spirit leads and guides us through the days of our lives, until at last we are carried into your eternal presence. Jesus, we celebrate your birth, the fulfilment of the ancient Promises of God. You are our hope, our joy, our life, our everything. We love you, Lord. Amen.
See the Light of the Christ Candle representing His birth, the coming of the Light into the World! We know the story the story of the Shepherds and Angels.
Let’s enter into it as we sing…
While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night
And Angels We have Heard on High
Let us hear the Scripture:
The Angels and Shepherds
Luke 2:8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
We invite our brother, Brian Austin to read his poem, His Christmas Gift to the Lord Jesus : Love Revealed
Another of love to Our Beloved King as we celebrate His Birthday – Pastor Dave Hildebrandt singing, Mary, Did You Know?
Let’s join voices to offer our gift of praise to Christ the King. Let’s sing
The Magi Come
Matt. 2:1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “`But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the
place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Story of the Babe born in a Manger is the story of Light overcoming dark. There is still darkness and so we must pick up the torch. We must share the love and the light of Jesus. Jesus said,
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Addison and Emily will sing
Light of the World
You received a candle. If I could have the assistants come, we’ll being lighting our candles. Remember, if your candle is lit, keep upright as you pass the light along.
Let’s join in singing another carol about His radiant Light. Let’s sing
As we bring our evening gathering to a close, it is good to be full of His radiant light and to carry it with us into the night.
It is good to remember that we, too, are the Light of the World.
But He also said,
Matt. 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
The moon in its beautiful, serene radiance is simply reflecting the greater glory of the Sun that rules the sky. Jesus is the Son, We are the Moon. The moon cannot hide its glow. And neither can we.
As we depart this evening, we’ll go singing Joy to the World, and as you deposit your candle please pick up a GLOW STICK. Fold it and see it glow. Let it remind you that we are the bearers of the Light.
Let it glow. God bless you and Christmas Blessings
Joy to the World
Praise Team closes with Born is the King