“Joy, Unspeakable Joy”
“O Come All Ye Faithful”
Welcome & Announcements
Offering – Missions Video
Advent – Carroll Gray, Chris Pickens, Casey Swartz (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:46-48)
Narration Before “Hail Newborn King”:
Joy to the world! The Lord is come! We have gathered here to celebrate the joy of Christmas…joy unspeakable and full of glory! From the moment His birth was prophesied to the moment of His coming, God’s people waited with great anticipation for the joy He would bring. Today, we hail Him as our newborn King, the Messiah, the Light of the World! And we celebrate the joy of His glorious coming, as we sing praises to our Savior and Lord!
Narration before “If You Listen”:
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 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; 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. (Luke 2:1-7)
Long before that joyous night, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the Messiah’s birth. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” How great a thought! The Ancient of Days, an infant. The Creator, created. Delivered to be our Deliverer. Behold “The Lord Our Righteousness”, the Lamb of God, born to take away the sins of the world! Emmanuel has come: and if you listen, you can hear it still today…the sounds of His coming! And just like the shepherds, we are, even now, being invited to draw near to worship.
Narration before “Joyful, Wonderful News”:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them”. This was a night for Good News! It was a time of great joy! And today, more than ever before, this is still the season of joyful, wonderful news of the newborn King!
Narration before “For The Joy”:
What glorious news the angel proclaimed! The King of all kings had been born! Yet there were no royal decrees, no kingly robes, no palace adorned with gold.
How great was the responsibility of the young couple to give watch over Heaven’s Charge. While their hearts overflowed with joy, no doubt their concerns were many. Uncertain days lay before them, yet they trusted their Sovereign Lord, who had called them to this sacred moment.
MESSAGE: The Glory Of Christmas (Luke 2:14)
My oldest daughter shares many tendencies from her parents – the good from my wife and the negative from myself. One of the traits we share is the pursuit of perfection. We have the 1st child syndrome that has a specific way of accomplishing tasks – the right way of course. The positive perspective of this trait is pursuing excellence, but the negative perspective is that our work can easily become a burden instead of a blessing.
I noticed this mindset when our family was driving through some neighborhoods to enjoy looking at Christmas lights. We have this little game where the children shout whose side of the car to look when we see Christmas lights. Along the enjoyment comes a thought to my oldest daughter, something like, “A lot of these people must be crazy for putting up all these lights and decorations. It must take a lot of work to not only put up everything but also to take them down.”
There was a part of me that commiserated and then there was another part of me that became disappointed for her view of work – and worse, knowing the very likelihood that her view was influenced by my attitudes. My response was, “Yes some things do take a lot of work but all things that are very important are worth the work.”
About this time we celebrate Christmas we are realizing and reminded of all the work during this season. And yet, somehow everywhere you go and everyone you know understands the worth and glory of Christmas celebration.
In this message, I want to share a reminder that life is worth living despite our fears and failures.
The glory of Christmas is recognizing God’s love despite our failures.
The Scripture opens with a regular and routine night for shepherds keeping watch over their flock. Shepherds and sheep were lowly and despised (cf. Gen 46:34). Israelites, especially the religious, valued cleanliness and purity. Shepherds were dirty and smelly; men who soaked with sweat; clothes drenched with field stench; and likely their style and language lacked etiquette.
Yet, God favored shepherds as the first visitors of the incarnation. God chose shepherds to identify with the feeble and failed of life.
“I bring YOU good news of great joy that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE. For unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOR, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign FOR YOU: YOU will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)
- The shepherds’ failures are our failures.
- All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)
- But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
- Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:13)
- Failure can pull us in or push us away from God.
- Proud person: Writes book “How I Achieved Humility”. Humble person: Weeps w/ others in trials & troubles (cf. Luke 18:9-14 “everyone who exalts self will be humbled but humbled will be exalted”)
- Admitting failure is the foundation for a relationship with God (1John 1:9).*Charlie Brown Christmas – 50 years… failure, but not!
The glory of Christmas is recognizing God’s love despite our fears.
The shepherds were ordinary people who experienced an extraordinary event with an angel appearing to them. God showed His glory to shepherds. To understand this one has to understand glory.
Glory is to God as shining is to the sun, as wet is to water, as deliciousness is to Reeses PB cups. As humans, we see glory in the sea and the sky, in flowers, in flags, in food, and in faces. Glory is both brightness and beauty and is descriptive of everything radiant and reflective about God.
In the Bible when God’s glory is revealed it is overpowering to human individuals:
- Moses takes shoes off bc of holy ground (Exodus 3:5)
- Israelites tremble in fear bc of God’s majesty and might (Exodus 19:16)
- Moses takes shelter in a cave bc of God’s brightness (Exodus 33:22)
- David repeats “The Lord is the King of Glory” (Psalm 24, etc.)
- Isaiah is undone “woe is me… for my eyes have seen the King [of glory]” (Isaiah 6:1-5)
- People will faint with fear for what is coming on the world in the last days (Luke 21:26)
God’s glory is outstanding and overwhelming. His glory is beyond our comprehension. The shepherds were filled with fear and the angel had to tell them to “fear not” (Luke 2:9).
In much of my years the connection between Christmas and fear escaped me. Yet, it’s been there the entire time.
- Angel to Joseph, “do not fear to take Mary as your wife” (Matthew 1:20)
- Angel to Mary, “do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30)
- O Little Town of Bethlehem: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.”
- The shepherds’ fears are our fears.
- We fear God because of our insecurities. We feel inadequate and understand we fall short of God’s glory.
- The gospel says you are loved despite what you haven’t done and forgiven despite what you have done. Our identity is not in what we have done but in what God does for us.
- We fear God because of our certainties. We feel the disappointments of unmet expectations at Christmas…
We feel the limitations of life in the nearness of death of ourselves or loved ones.
- The gospel says you can rest in the unfailing and steadfast love of God. The Christmas narrative reminds us of God’s faithfulness to keep every promise and share His forgiving love with everyone despite their past and practices.
- Fear can pull us in or push us away from God.
- In the gospel, Jesus was born as a child so we can relate. If Jesus entered the world as a mature adult we would likely be pushed away to a standard that could never be met. Yet, Jesus identifies with us in every way so we can be brought near to God.
- In the gospel, Jesus dies on the cross so we can be redeemed. If Jesus left earth without ever having suffered or died then we would be without comfort or confidence in the circumstances of our lives. Yet, Jesus provides the path to life through conquering every fear and sad reality we will ever face in this life.
- Fear robs of peace and God’s presence.
- Only the presence of Jesus can provide peace and overcome fear.
- Luke 2:14 peace on earth and goodwill among men
- John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
- 1John 4:18-19 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear… We love because he first loved us.”
- Only the presence of Jesus can provide peace and overcome fear.
The solution to experiencing joy at Christmas and beyond is pursuing Jesus (Luke 2:15-18) and proclaiming God’s grace to others (Luke 2:20).
Narration before “The Festival of Hymns & Carols”:
(spoken as a prayer) Heavenly Father, we thank you for the glory of Christmas and the joyous gift of Jesus. May our hearts overcome our failure and fear through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ our Savior. And may we not miss the opportunity to sing and share of the grace which You have shown to us.
“Sing All Ye People”
Choir Director: Kera Day
Choir Members: Tony Bell, Sharon Benson, Donna Delp, Curtis Fox, Janet Fox, Sandra Gray, Jennifer Johnson, Louise Kelly, Dick McGunigale, Wanda Murray, Joe O’Banion, Chris Pickens