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WHY JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN UNTO US

A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICE OF WORD AND MUSIC

ORIGINALLY CELEBRATED AT THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

24 DECEMBER 1993

Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Exodus 3:14
Isaiah 7:14
        9:6
        52:6-10
Matthew 6:10, 12-13
Mark 1:40-42
Luke 1:76-79
        2:8-11
John 6:35
        8:10-12
        10:9, 11, 25
        13:34-35
        14:6
        15:1
2 Peter 3:9

Prelude: "Allegretto Pastorale" – Guilmant

Greetings:

Announcements:

Introit:

Homily:

Sometimes we forget the real reason we should be celebrating Christmas.

It's not to celebrate the coming of Santa Claus, or the decorating of trees and our homes.

And it's definitely not to celebrate the existence of all our retail stores and shopping centers.

And it's not just to remember that, according to tradition, Jesus Christ was born on this day some 2,000 years ago, but the fact that Jesus Christ was born unto us, for our personal benefit.

Do you remember that this is the message that God sent to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-11)?

8. And in the same region [around Bethlehem] there were some shepherds staying out in the fields, and keeping watch over their flock by night.

9. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people;

11. for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

"There has been born for you a Savior!"

There has been born for each of us, personally, a Savior; and He is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Invocation:

Processional Hymn: O Come, All Ye Faithful

Homily:

Several months before the birth of Jesus, John the Baptist was born to Elizabeth and Zacharias.

Listen, in part, to what Zacharias prophesied in the power of the Holy Spirit to his son upon his birth, and to those around him, as recorded in Luke 1:76-79.

76. “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways;

77. To give to His people the knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins,

78. Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us,

79. To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

This is why the love of God our Father sent us Jesus, and why He sent us John before Him; that we would come to repentance and be saved.

As Peter put it in his second epistle (3:9),

9. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Some might count the past 2,000 years as being slow, but they are just a time of God's patient love for us, that none of us should perish.

With true repentance comes this salvation.

Do you remember what Jesus said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, as recorded by John in 8:10-11?

Contained in these verses is the answer to why Jesus was born unto us, and a description of the results of true repentance.

10. And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

11. And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”

Let each of us take a moment in silence, reflecting upon our own relationship with the Lord; asking Him to forgive us, personally, for the way we have been and the things we have done.

Ask the Lord to forgive you, and to be born anew in your heart; that it might become softened and filled with greater love and sensitivity than you have ever known or imagined; that together we might be the people He desires us to be – a people who go forth so filled with love that we will sin no more.

Take a moment.

Confession and Assurance:

Homily:

With this assurance of forgiveness that comes from our true confession, let us recite the Lord's Prayer together, remembering that this prayer is an example of what all our prayers should be like, and should not be our only prayer.

And as we recite it, remember what we are praying for:

We are praying that God's kingdom will come, and that the will of the Lord will be done on earth, by us, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

We are also praying that if we do not forgive those who sin against us, then the Lord should not forgive us; but that to the extent that we show our lovingkindness in forgiving others, we should be forgiven (Matthew 6:12).

Remember also that if we mean "do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13), then we likewise have the responsibility not to turn around and walk back into it.

Let us pray as the Lord Himself taught us. The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13):

9 'Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.

10 'Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

11 'Give us this day our daily bread.

12 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 'And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]'
~ New American Standard Bible

Hymn: Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

Homily:

The lighting of the Advent and Christ candles speaks to us of the remembrance of why we are here, and why Jesus Christ was born unto us, and why He will come again, for that is our advent today.

Let's listen to this message of grace, hope, joy, peace, and most of all, love.

Lighting of the Christ Candle:

As we relight the first Advent candle, recall that it is speaking to us of God's grace, His gift of love – the grace that sent us the greatest of all Christmas gifts, Jesus Christ, to free us from our sins and death.

As we relight the second Advent candle, recall that it is speaking to us of hope – the hope we have in Christ's second coming. And also that it speaks of the hope and assurance we receive when we believe in the only begotten Son of God, and repent of our sins; for we shall be with Him forever in heaven, because God loves a humble heart.

And as we relight the third of the Advent candles, let us remember that it speaks to us of joy – the true joy that is with us always when we have come to know Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, and have submitted our own will to His; the true joy we have when we know we are loved, no matter what happens.

And when we have come to know God’s grace that saved us, and have the hope and assurance that He will come again, we receive the joy of the Lord and have that inner peace that surpasses all understanding.

As we relight the fourth of the Advent candles, let it speak to us of peace. It is the peace we receive when we have come to know God’s grace that saved us, and have the hope and assurance that He will come again. It is that inner peace that surpasses all understanding, that we receive when we are filled with the joy and love of the Lord.

All this comes because of God’s love that gave us Jesus Christ, symbolized by the fifth candle – the center candle.

But who is He, really?

Note what God told Moses when he asked a similar question:

Exodus 3:14.

14. And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' ''

But Jesus, who really are You?

John 6:35.

35. Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.'

John 8:12.

12. Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."

John 10:9.

9. "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."

John 10:11.

11. "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."

John 11:25.

25. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,

John 14:6.

6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."

John 15:1.

1."I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser."

When we receive the birth of Jesus into our hearts, and believe on Him, our Father who is in heaven grafts us into Him, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.

God has given us His Son because He loves us.

And all who receive the Son have His love.

Receive this gift of love until it overflows from you, and then give it freely to others, even when they don't deserve it, just as the Lord has done for us.

Amen.

Anthem: "Hallelujah, Glory, Hallelujah" – Sleeth

Sharing of our Joys and Concerns:

Pastoral Prayer:

Response: A Nativity Prayer

Hymn: Once in Royal David's City

Homily:

Jesus wasn't born unto us as a stately king in a palace filled with the finest of things, scented with the finest of perfume, and attended to by the most knowledgeable medical people.

No; our loving God allowed His Son to be born in the humbleness of a stable, with a few blankets, the finest of hay, and the scent of manure; a place where his visible attendants were animals, who huddled around to keep Mary and Jesus warm.

Jesus didn't have a stately bed either; but they laid Him in the animals’ feeding trough upon a mattress of hay.

God did this because he wanted all of us to know that neither He nor His Son Jesus would consider it beneath Themselves to meet us right where we are, in whatever circumstances we may be found.

I also believe He did this to let us know He cares about the animals, too; so that we would treat them with lovingkindness in return, and not exploit them, for they shared their living space with them when no humans would provide them with a place to stay, even while knowing that Mary was about to give birth.

We are to make no distinctions in our expression of love and compassion.

To show that we know why He was born unto us, we are to live the new commandment Jesus gave us (John 13:34¬35).

34. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

35. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

This kind of love doesn't turn on and off like an electric light. This kind of love is for ever and ever.

Jesus was born unto us so that we would learn to love as much as our heavenly Father loves us; that we would show our love as the Father did by allowing His Son to be born in a stable, and to die for us.

Jesus showed us an example of this kind of love when he encountered a leper. Listen to what we are told in Mark 1:40-42.

40. And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean."

41. And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed."

42. And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

He touched him!

Jesus didn't just stand apart from him, and pronounce a blessing.

He touched him!

Jesus felt this man's pain and suffering. He felt his despair of being rejected by society.

Jesus touched him to show him His love.

Today, there is the disease of AIDS.

Can we love people with AIDS as Jesus showed us with this leper?

Can we love them enough not to care how or why they contracted the disease?

Can we love them enough to welcome them around us, and not reject them as lepers were rejected?

Can we love them enough to reach out to them and give them a hug, and pray for them?

We can, and we will, if Jesus Christ is alive within us; for that is exactly what He would do.

This is the love of Christmas.

This is why Jesus was born unto us as He was.

Hymn: What Child Is This?

Homily:

What child is this?

This is the Child of whom Isaiah spoke (7:14):

14. "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

This is also the child of whom Isaiah said (9:6):

6. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

What child is this?

This is your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This is the Jesus Christ of whom Isaiah also prophesied in 52:6-10.

6. "Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, 'Here I am.' "

All of us know His name.

Some are so casual with His name that they swear with it.

Yes, we know the name of Jesus Christ.

But we don't all hear Him speaking to us, even though He is right here is our presence.

7. How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace
And brings good news of happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"

8. Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices,
They shout joyfully together;
For they will see with their own eyes
When the Lord restores Zion.

9. Break forth, shout joyfully together,
You waste places of Jerusalem;
For the Lord has comforted his people,
He has redeemed Jerusalem.

10. The Lord has bared His holy arm
In the sight of all the nations,
That all the ends of the earth may see
The salvation of our God.

The whole world has seen!

Every nation has seen!

And every one of us has seen and heard!

But only a few people have responded and spread the good news of salvation; that all would live in peace with unconditional love for the whole of creation.

What Child is this?

This is the Child who made all of this come true.

O Harken Ye and listen.

Hymn: O Harken Ye

Homily:

O harken ye who would believe!

O harken ye who long for peace!

O harken ye who long for love!

Shout for joy! For we can have all of this if we receive God's Christmas gift of Jesus Christ in our hearts.

Let love and joy flow forth from every part of your being.

This is Christmas!

Tomorrow is Christmas!

And if you believe, every day after tomorrow is also Christmas.

Wake up!

It's Christmas!

Give of yourself to every one, as Jesus Christ gave Himself for you.

Be joyful!

It's Christmas!

Anthem: "The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy" – A traditional West Indian carol – arranged by Hopson.

Worship with Our Tithes and Offerings: (bringing up our gifts for Christ and receiving a candle – the forming of a circle around the church.)

Music Offering:

The Lighting of the Circle of Light: (the electric lights will be turned out as the circle of light begins in both directions from the Christ candle)

Hymn: Silent Night! Holy Night!

Benediction:

Postlude:

Your Comments are welcome

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