Christmas Eve 2021

Christmas Eve Service 2021

 

Welcome! Merry Christmas Eve! Christmas is such a wonderful, magical and beautiful time of year! We enjoy so many traditions at Christmas- the lights, decorating a tree, finding meaningful gifts, good food, and exchanging our gifts. 

But Christmas is so much more than all of this! There is a light that shines brighter and more beautifully than all the Christmas lights combined! It is Love’s Pure Light from heaven. Jesus Christ is called the Light of the World and today we celebrate Jesus’ birth that happened on the very first Christmas. 

He would later affirm this of Himself where we read in John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

We celebrate and remember His birth for what it means for all of us, more than 2000 years later. Do you know of anyone else in history who has impacted our world so greatly that their birthday is still celebrated 2000 years later all across the world? Jesus Christ is more than a great man who did great things while he lived. He’s more than a great teacher who inspired many people. He is the Living God who left glory to come to earth in the flesh and bring with Him eternal light to shine into the hearts of people. His sole purpose for coming down to earth in the flesh was so He could become our sacrifice as the spotless Lamb of God and pay our ransom for our sins. God Himself, made a way for us to be redeemed from our sin and to be made holy. He knew we would need a Savior to take our penalty and make away; that Savior is Jesus Christ. He left glory to be born as a man and do what we could never do. This is what truly makes Christmas special-Jesus came to bring us eternal life through Him! That means we have the greatest gift we could ever hope for, right in our hearts, with us at all times, as we believe in Him. 

A baby was born one Christmas night to become “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  

Jesus came to bring and be the light of life to all people who would open their hearts to Him and receive Him as their Savior. God affirmed this by sending a star to announce the arrival of His precious Son’s birth and light the way for those seeking to find Him. 

Let’s take a journey back to that night when darkness was upon the land and a glorious light entered earth in the most unusual, mysterious, and wonderous way through the birth of a child. 

Max Lucado said it wonderfully, “Christmas is best pondered, not with logic, but with imagination.” So let us call upon our imagination as we hear the accounting of His birth and sing out praises rejoicing in His arrival. Let the Spirit move in your hearts, stir in our emotions and paint vivid pictures in our minds of His wonder and glory! 

Let us prepare our hearts as we travel back to that first Christmas and recall the events of that historic night where everything was changed because of the birth of one child, the Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

Let us pray. 

  • 2 Songs Do You Hear What I Hear, O Come All Ye Faithful. 
  • Final Advent Reading- Rick and Shari

Before this great event happened, God revealed His divine plan to bring the Light of the World down to earth. 

First God sends an angel Gabriel, to visit Zechariah who served faithfully in the temple and foretells of a son he and his wife Elizabeth would have. He said do not fear Zechariah. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you and many will rejoice because of his birth. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born and has the power of Elijah the prophet. He is going to be a forerunner and make ready the people for the way of the Lord! Elizabeth ds become pregnant with a son, who grew to become John the Baptist. He would be A voice of one calling: In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. As foretold by the prophet Isaiah.  

Next God sent Gabriel to visit Mary and share the most marvelous, miraculous news our world has ever known: 

We read in the Gospel of Luke of their encounter:  Luke 1

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants 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 on 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

So Mary surrendered to the Lord’s plans and invited the Light of Glory to enter her. She becomes pregnant with the Son of God, focusing on the wonders of this miracle child forming in her and what His birth would mean for their people. How wondrous! What a beautiful connection Mary had with God Himself. In that moment of surrender and belief, everything changed for her and began the course to change our entire world. Our Messiah would be born through Mary. 

Meanwhile, Joseph, who Mary was engaged to, but not yet married to, was concerned about this unexplainable pregnancy. He didn’t know what to make of his fiancé being pregnant. Socially, it was unacceptable and they would be shamed by their people. He could not marry a woman who was having another man’s baby. Yet he loved Mary and didn’t want to publicly disgrace her, so he had in mind to quietly separate from her. 

God sent another angel to meet with Joseph and speak to him in a dream. 

Matthew 1: 20-24 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 conceive and 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. 

Let us notice Mary and Joseph’s obedience and surrender to God’s plans for their lives. They believed and by faith, they acted in accordance with what God told them to do. Because of this, God used them in an incredible way to be earthly parents and protectors of His Son. Once they heard the counsel of God, they willingly obeyed and were greatly blessed in their obedience and faithfulness. 

Mary continued on with her pregnancy until she reached full term. So they waited with great anticipation for this miracle child to be born. During her pregnancy, Mary went to visit her relative Elizabeth who as we know was also expecting a son, and further along in her pregnancy. 

We read in Luke: 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Remember Gabriel told Zechariah the Holy Spirit would be upon his child even before he was born. Baby John leapt within his mother’s womb because his spirit knew and recognized the Son of God was in His presence! 

Mary marveled at all of this happening to her and Elizabeth. She proclaimed: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,     from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;     he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,  just as he promised our ancestors.”

Her heart was overflowing with the joy of the Lord! She was strong in her faith believing in His promises and steadfast knowing He is faithful and true. What an exciting and encouraging visit she had with Elizabeth.

Near the end of her pregnancy, God ordained the leader of the Roman government who was ruler to the nations at that time, to call for a census of all people. This was the first census to take place in some time. Think about that for a moment-that at exactly the time that Mary would be giving birth, a non-God-fearing leader, would put out a decree for all the people to come to their ancestral hometown and register. Something that hadn’t happened in a long time prior.  This tells us God is sovereign over all people and all things even those who don’t believe in Him He can and will work through all to accomplish His divine purposes. 

Joseph’s ancestral hometown was Bethlehem because he was from the line of King David. God promised to King David, someone from his line would forever sit on the throne over his kingdom. That someone would be Jesus Christ. 

We read in Luke 2:  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no guest room available for them.

At long last, their son had arrived! He was beautiful and there was a light radiating from within, a tenderness, a peacefulness looking into his sweet eyes, and a joy that could not be explained. She felt as she held her tiny baby, a great strength coming from within him. As she looked upon his face, she wondered, “what child is this?”  “What will my eyes behold as I watch you grow? Who am I that I should be given the honor to be your mother, child of God? O little one, so helpless now, you can trust in me and your dad to keep you safe from harm and love you with all our hearts. We will help you grow so you can shine the light that I see in you now, for all the world to see.”

In the quiet, she pondered the wonder of her baby and the mysterious plans of God that were now fully in motion. What was in store for this little baby she held in her arms? 

  • Song- Mary Did You know. 

When the Light of the World arrived, people that were seeking took notice of the signs. God made sure the world did not miss the arrival of His Son. He first announced the arrival to shepherds who were in fields working nearby where Jesus had been born and He did so in a spectacular way! 

Luke 2: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those 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.”

So they hurried off. Notice they responded immediately to the good news shared with them! They went to see Jesus first-hand. They found the baby, exactly as the angel said and they praised God for the wondrous news. Mary treasured in her heart what the shepherds told her about the angels rejoicing over Jesus’ birth. 

Then the time came for Jesus to be circumcised in the temple as was a custom for their people and the purification rites required by the Law of Moses. So they took Jesus to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord. There God ordained to have a devout and righteous man Simeon also be at the temple that same day. He had been waiting for the promise given to him to see the Lord’s Messiah before he passed. Simeon saw the baby as they arrived and took Jesus in his arms and said: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,   you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31     which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,  and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.”

God revealed the news of His Son to those who studied and searched the stars-they were looking for the Light of the World to enter because they knew the prophecies spoken of long ago that foretold of His coming. So God sent a star to symbolize the arrival of Jesus and the wise men saw it! They too like the others in seeing the sign, acted immediately and went to see Jesus for themselves. 

We read in Matthew 2: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘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 shepherd my people Israel.’”

God orchestrated circumstances to ensure this prophecy was fulfilled. 

Three wise men from other nations, traveled afar to both see and honor the newborn king. They followed the star to the place where Jesus was. 

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed11 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, frankincense, and myrrh.

The seeking heart will always recognize love’s pure light when it is found. God says, “seek Me with all your heart and then you will find Me.” 

A baby entered into a dark world and became the glory of Israel and a light for revelation to the gentiles. And this miraculous moment that would change our world forever, all began in a most unlikely setting;  a lowly manger because as God would ordain it, there would be no room in the inn. 

  • The children will now guide us in song, Away in a Manger, and pay honor to Jesus with some homemade creations they will hang on the tree, as their gift to Him. Feel free to sing along with them. 

The little baby ushered in Light from above that has never been extinguished and carried in Him a peace that is not of this world.  

The baby Jesus grew in stature and in favor with both God and people around Him. Glimmers of His majesty and wisdom would appear as He grew, but it would be 33 years until the fullness of the Son of God would be revealed to all and His destiny attained as He became the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world by dying on the cross. The full measure of His power realized as He rose from the grave as our victorious and sovereign King! 

But in the waiting for revelation and victory from oppression and suffering of all kinds, the Light of the World was shining bright among His people, just as He does today in our waiting for Jesus’ second coming. 

Let us remember His birth is a promise fulfilled and the arrival of eternal hope to all the world. Isaiah 9:6 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.

Jesus has always been and will forever be our sovereign King, Mighty God, Prince of Peace, Immanuel. May we like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men all respond with a willing and eager heart to follow Jesus as He calls us. May we put our faith in Him as they did and see Him for who He is, the Messiah! May we trust in Him and honor Him as Lord of our lives and Lord over all the earth, in how we live for Him. May we rejoice in this moment of His birth over 2000 years ago, knowing the fulfillment of that promise also ensures the fulfillment of all other promises God has spoken. What a wondrous night, when the Light of the World came down to earth. 

Let us open our hearts if they have been closed and receive Him this evening as our Savior, for that is why He came so that all could be saved and not perish. Let this be your greatest Christmas yet as your heart is made new in Christ! 

Let us pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, by your incarnation you united things earthly and heavenly. Fill us with the sweetness of inward peace and goodwill, that we may join the heavenly host in singing praises to your glory;
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Amen.

Let us close our service in reflective song with candles lit: 

  • Silent Night
  • O Holy Night 

 

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