Each sermon is published in large print for use in preaching, and for easy reading by several people gathered around the computer monitor.
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
25 DECEMBER 1988
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Preparation Verse: (John 16:16)
“A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”
Today's service is going to be a little different. We are going to be seeing Jesus in everything we do.
As a result, the entire service and our sermon are one.
Jesus said, in John 16:16,
16. "A little while, and you will no longer behold Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me."
Two thousand years ago, Jesus was born unto us, and His disciples and many others saw Him.
He died, was buried, and rose from the dead, and His disciples saw Him again. Then they beheld Him no longer, but His inner presence they could still see.
Father, we thank You for this Christmas morning, but most of all for Jesus Christ.
Open our hearts and minds to see Jesus in a way that we have never experienced before; that we would never be the same again; that we would be more like Him.
And we thank You, Father, for being in our presence; for we dedicate our praise and worship to You.
HYMN – Be Thou My Vision
This ancient Irish hymn was based on Philippians 3:7–
7. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
The things of this world have a tendency to block our vision of the Lord, particularly when we put them before Him.
He is our greatest Christmas gift. He should be first.
COLLECT – IN UNISON
Please join me in the reading of the prayer that is printed in your bulletin.
O Father, on this Day when we celebrate the birth of Your Son, Your greatest and only true Christmas gift, born in a stable, and not in a house of kings or even in an inn, we ask that you help us to fully open our hearts to make room for Jesus’ birth within us; that through our receiving, you would be our constant and true vision.
HYMN – Away In a Manger
And after Jesus' birth, God led wise men to seek Him out, to bring gifts to Him, and to proclaim His Lordship.
Do you remember that during our communion service last night we talked about what these wise men brought to the Lord Jesus and what those gifts meant?
Our next hymn, We Three Kings, tells us the story and the meanings of the gifts. Listen carefully to the words.
HYMN – We Three Kings
They wanted to see Jesus.
They wanted to know Him in a personal way.
They wanted to worship Him for who He is.
They brought Gold to crown Him as King.
They brought Frankincense as incense for their God.
And they brought Myrrh to anoint Him for burial, for He would die for their sins.
They wanted their eyes opened; they wanted to see Jesus.
HYMN – Open Our Eyes Lord
Sometimes, even with our eyes supposedly open, we fail to see Jesus.
We see all kinds of bright and colorful lights, but we fail to see Jesus.
We see all kinds of presents with all of their fancy wrappings, and we even try to see Santa Claus, but we fail to see Jesus.
We even say "I love You," but we fail to see Him.
All too often, our eyes see only the worldly things around us.
When we tell the Lord we love Him, we also should be saying something else.
We should be saying that we also love the whole of God's creation: humans, animals, and the environment, and that the desire of our hearts and souls is to protect them all.
Join me in our next hymn, and let it also speak to our hearts of what this something else is.
HYMN – My Jesus, I Love Thee
In order for us to truly love Him and see Him, we must resign our sin.
Join me in a moment of silence, and reflect on those things in our lives that we should resign from, so that we might see Jesus.
CONFESSION AND ASSURANCE
ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING
HYMN – What Child Is This
Yes; what child is this that we should come to see Him?
What child is this that we should come to Him so that He might change our lives to be just like Him?
OLD TESTAMENT READING – Isaiah 9:1-7
1. But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.
2. The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
3. Thou shalt multiply the nation,
Thou shalt increase their gladness;
They will be glad in Thy presence
As with the gladness of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
4. For Thou shalt break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their
The rod of their oppressor, as at the battle of Midian.
5. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult,
And cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire.
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,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
7. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
What child is this?
This is the child that was given to a people who were walking in darkness, in a darkened land.
But we don't have to be like them.
This is the child who was sent to bring them light, for He is the light.
And in this light, we should see all the evil, corruption, and suffering and death in this darkened land, any turn away from all of it.
This is the child who was given to us.
To give us a softened heart and soul so that we can truly feel the pain and suffering of the world around us, and desire to do everything we can to bring the peace that will end the suffering.
This is the child who brings gladness to all who accept Him.
And if Jesus is truly born in our hearts, we should also be bringing this gladness into the world around us.
This is the child who is also King, for all of the governments of the world are under Him.
This is our God.
This is He who is our Wonderful Counselor, who will gladly listen to all of our problems and concerns, and help us through them.
This is the child who is Almighty God, for nothing is impossible for Him.
This is the child who is also our Eternal Father, for they are one, and who also cares for us as His own children.
And this caring extends to every other human being, and all the animals, and ever to the environment in which we all live.
And this is the child who will give all of us the peace that surpasses all understanding, for He is the Prince of Peace.
Nothing is too great for Him.
But we need to stop working against is efforts by being a participant in the corrupt and cruel ways of the world
All we have to do to receive Him and all that he offers us is to just invite Him into our hearts.
This is what child He is.
And how great is our joy because of Him.
HYMN – How Great Our Joy
JOYS AND CONCERNS
Is there a joy or a concern in you heart?
Please share it with us.
NEW TESTAMENT READING – Luke 2:25-32
25. And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
26. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
27. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,
28. then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29. "Now Lord, Thou dost let Thy bond-servant depart
In peace, according to Thy word;
30. For my eyes have seen Thy salvation,
31. Which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32. A light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Thy people Israel."
Simeon wanted to see his Messiah, and he waited patiently, serving the Lord.
And because he placed God before everything else in his life, he was able to see Jesus.
He was able to reveal the revelation of God to all who were around.
Jesus is the Christ.
Jesus is our salvation.
He is our light, and by His light we can see Him even in darkness, just as Simeon did; for our Lord and King has come.
HYMN – Rejoice The Lord Is King