For Unto YOU (Christmas Eve, 2019)

Posted by on Dec 26, 2019 in Sermons, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

Our 7:30 Christmas Eve service began at 7:00.  Expecting to connect with tradition and longing to connect with God, people came early to celebrate this Christmas Eve.  At 7:00, the music team presented a series of “Songs of the Season” carols.  At 7:30 the Order of Worship that was printed in the bulletin took over as the guide for the evening.   By the end of the service, warmed by the glow of candlelight proclaiming the entry of God’s Light into the world, we departed with a personal claim on the gift that a Savior is born unto Me.

 

The Christmas Story

The service progressed with familiar carols which were played by our brass ensemble, piano, organ, and guitars.  The words of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” brought us to memories of familiar Christmases past.  

The choir led in the singing, and Pastor Jim read the familiar Christmas passages from the Bible (KJV): 

Isaiah 9

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Micah 5:2

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Luke 2:1-7

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)  to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

 

The Christmas Message

The music, prayers, and Bible readings which opened the service led us into an attitude of celebration and worship.   The sermon which anchored the service led us to ponder what has happened.  And the lights which marked the end of the service inspired us to shine our own lights of praise, thanksgiving, and love for the God who gave His all in all for us.

 

Scripture Lesson

Pastor Jim’s scripture for the sermon was short, simple, and familiar.  It came from Luke 2:11…

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

KJV

Every time we watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special, we remember  this verse.  “For unto you is born this day… a Savior.”  Familiar.  Perhaps too familiar…

 

Christmas Message

The bulletin didn’t even give a title for Pastor Jim’s sermon.  When we reached that point in the service the bulletin simply said “Christmas Message.”

“For unto YOU is born…” 

The You refers to all of humanity.  To Israel.  To the shepherds standing before the angels.  But this “You” can also be considered to be singular:  To THIS shepherd, to THIS couple, to THIS city… to ME.  The Name Emmanuel means “God with us”, but it also means that God is with ME.  If we focus on Emmanuel instead of all of the traditional Christmas festivities, we can discover that Emmanuel is more than a Name.  We can discover that God’s gift brings the love, peace, and belonging that all of us need… to ME.

It has been said (truthfully), that if you were the only person in history who turned their back on God- if YOU were the only person who ever needed salvation, Jesus still would have come to the cross for YOU.  Jesus went to the cross for the shepherds, for Pilate, for Mary and Joseph… and for me.  He went to the cross for the powerful and weak, for the  influential and the disrespected…. and for me.   Jesus came for everyone.

For unto you is born a SAVIOR…

A Savior?  What do we need to be saved from???  Think about this question:  Do you rely on God every moment of your life, or do you always seek to work things out on your own?  Do you welcome God into the details of your life, or does your self-sufficiency push Him out?  How’s that been working out for you???

As kids (and adults) we are told to never swim in a lake or ocean unless a lifeguard is on duty.  It’s easy to venture out too deep or to be caught in the undertoe, and before you know it you’re in danger.  In a similar way, our spiritual lives are constantly threatened by life’s “depths” or “undertoe.”  God created us to be in union with Him, but there are many things that drive us away from that union. 

We constantly need a “lifeguard”- a Savior.  Our Savior wants to jump into our lives to breath life back into it when we get weighed down by the worries.  Our Emmanuel (God with ME), wants to walk with us.  He is offering to shepherd us through the peaks and valleys of our lives.  He comes  to “lead us beside still waters”…. to “restore my soul…” (Psalm 23).  Even if we have rejected Him, He comes to accept us.

Christmas reminds us that God wants to give us the greatest gift possible.  His gift goes to the core of our needs.  But, we must use this gift.  If somebody gave you a check for $1000, it would be useless unless you signed the check and cashed it. Christmas reminds us that God’s love has given us a gift that we must accept.  If we “cash the check” and depend on Him throughout the year, we will finally experience the gifts of the Love, Joy, and Peace which God so desperately wants to give us.

 

Light

Jesus is our Savior, Shepherd, and King.  He is Truth.  He is the “Light of the World.”  We live in a dark place (sinful separation from God), but Christmas reminds us that our Messiah enters our world to bring us light.  He enters MY world to bring ME light.  All of us hold a candle which must be lit.   If we are in love with our God and Savior, we can’t help but to share that flame with others. 

At the end of our service, the light from the Christ Candle (the center candle in our Advent Wreath), was used to light the candles held by each member of the congregation.  Just as we dip our unlit candle into our neighbor’s lit candle, the flame of God’s light must be received and given.

For unto ME a Savior is born.  Have we accepted that gift?  Are we spreading the gift to others? 

 

 

 

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