Sermon Manuscript

Bible Reading Luke 2

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising Godfor all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (Luke 2:1-21 ESV)

Intro

This day we celebrate the good news that a Savior is born. One who would rescue people from all the problems in the world. The angels rejoiced at this news, the shepherds rejoiced at this news, Joseph and Mary rejoiced at it, and we are to rejoice in it too.

We are going to sing Christmas carols that tell of this good news. To some these songs are new and unfamiliar and so we want to teach them to you. To some these carols are familiar, they are all around us, and maybe overlooked. We are going to explain the stories behind the carols so we can sing together.

● Oh come all ye faithful

Our first song is O Come all Ye Faithful. And we want “Ye” to sing along. The song was likely composed in the 1700’ s. How many songs do you sing that are that old?

It is one of the best known carols even though its author was unknown for several hundred years. Authorship wasn’t discovered until the 1900’s when a handwritten manuscript dating back to 1700’s with the name of John Francis Wade. While much of our work can get lost or go unnoticed, God made sure that the birth of his Son would be noticed. He sent angels to declare it and called the faithful to adore it.

The song brings us into the manger seen among the shepherds who have come to see the new born child. We are called to come in triumph, assured of a great victory, a Savior has come. If you are in need and help arrives you rejoice, you are triumphant, and that is what the birth of Christ should do. Its like you were on top of a burning building and the emergency helicopter shows up. You are saved. You have a deliverer.

The song also calls us not simply to a baby but to the king of angels. As if it were not enough that he reigns over all men he is also over the angels. The rescuer is not just another fireman or police officer or even governing official, but the king of angels.

He is the Word of the father. God sends a message to us in the form of his Son. Steve’s bus ride... you being here makes me think God hasn’t forgotten me.

The song also call us citizens of heaven. That is points to the triumph the child brings. In Christ we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens... and members of the household of God,” (Eph 2:19 ESV). That makes a happy morning. How does one become a citizen of heaven. Do you have to relocate there, pay a fee, take an entrance exam? We are made citizen of heaven through the king of heaven. He came to bring outcasts in. He came to rescue the refugees.

But we have to remove our patronage to the world and trust in him, the way we do that is not by removing ourselves physically, but could better be said a change of what we adore. We this Child, we adore God’s plan, we adore following him. The shepherds left flocks and all to see this child, and we must leave all for him to.

This song is an invitation to join in the singing, and I want to invite you to join in singing the song with joy, triumph and adoration, a Savior is born!

O come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant
Oh come ye O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him born the King of angels;
O come let us adore him Christ the Lord. <p>

Sing choirs of angels sing in exultation
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God in the highest:
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord. <p>

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

    ●  Hark the Herald Angels Sing. (You can be seated).This next song is one that utterly confused me as a teenager. I use to think Hark was an angels name, and this angel named Hark was singing. Hark is simply an exclamation like “Look out,” “behold,” and means to pay attention. The song was composed by Charles Wesley in 1730. Originally the song verse was, “Hark, the welkin rings, glory to the King of Kings.” Welkin meaning “the vault of heavens.” Sounds like some elvish phrase from Lord of the Rings.

Herald is an authoritative messenger. That’s what angels are and that is what they did in the gospels. Angels brought a message that explained the events occuring. They were like spotlight pointing to what God was doing.

They announce the new born king, but Wesley calls us to sing some other important truths. God and sinner reconciled. Now you may say, “I didn’t know we had a fight.” The Bible teaches that our sin and rebellion to God put us at enmity with God. Just like when you offensively do something a person asked you not to do and they get angry at you, and rightfully so. Our sin offends God and makes us enemies. Sin brought a curse on the world. Life is hard, God is hidden, evil is present. But this song announces reconciliation. Like a person once estranged but now reconciled to his family; he is now able to talk with, dine with and enjoy their presence. We are reconciled to our creator.

We can be reconciled by repenting and trusting in Christ. We can be raised with Christ. We can have second birth, spiritual birth, a birth in which we seek to follow God. The spirit dwells with us. God is with us- Emmanuel means “God with us.” We have a relationship with God through Christ.

This song also gives us a much bigger view of God. Jesus is “the glory of the skies,” “everlasting Lord.” It also says “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity.” What a profound statement. We cannot see God. Nothing can contain him. But in Christ his glory is seen, veiled, shaded by flesh, like pair of sunglasses allow you to look at the sun, so in Christ we see God.

The Godhead, three persons one God. Incarnate means in the flesh. Deity is God. The God who is so much greater than us, greater than the distance across the universe which he dwells in fully each moment of each day. How profound that this God takes an interest in us, dwells among us, and allows us to see him. He is our Emmanuel, meaning God is with us.

As Charles Spurgeon said, “As well might a gnat seek to drink in the ocean, as a finite creature to comprehend the Eternal God. A God whom we could understand would be no God. If we could grasp him he could not be infinite: if we could understand him, then were he not divine.”

This message is a also a message for all people, and colors and races and that is why it makes the nations rise. Let’s rise too and sing.

Hark! The herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King"
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinner reconciledJoyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic hosts proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King"

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time, behold Him come
Offspring of the virgin's womb

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus our Emmanuel

Hark! The herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King"

Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King"

last verse

    ●  Angels we have heard on high. (You can be seated)The song reminds the great hope the gospel brings, even to those in lowly positions. Shepherds were some of the lowliest people in ancient society. They worked with sheep, lived with sheep, and smelled like sheep. They were not the ones with the nice clothes, the millions of followers on twitter, big retirement funds. The good news announced by angels echoed through the mountains and plains and first came to shepherds watching their sheep. Christ coming is good news to all, even the lowly.

This song also shows the reconciling work of Christ. Reconciliation is a theme of the Bible and reconciliation with God often leads to reconciliation with other people. This song brings people and angels, lowly and lofty together to sing. Many carols like this one speak of the unifying peace Christ brings.

I read of another carol written by an Irishman born in 1771. His parents were Moravian missionaries who rebelled against the strict rules and rituals of the church of England. His parents were called to work in the West Indies and sent him to school in Ireland. At the age of twelve the parents he hardly knew died on the mission field.

The boy lost interest in schooling and flunked out. By age twenty he was little more than a vagrant, moving from job to job, even homeless for weeks at a time. Taking an interest in writing he devoted himself to it. He eventually became an editor set on fighting for Irish freedom from England. His rebellious and firey views twice landed him in prison.

Later, when he was not waging an editorial crusade against the English, he began reading his Bible to understand the power that motivated his parents lives and ultimately led to their death. In time, his Bible study, writing ability and rebellious zeal would send him on a new mission.

On December 24 1816 his readers discovered in his magazine a poem called “Nativity.” It told the story of the angels proclaiming the birth of a Savior for all people. For English, Irish, rich and poor, Anglican and Moravian. It spoke of a society that needed to right wrongs and be united together. A society not unlike ours today.

Angels we have heard on High shares this theme and tells how hostility can be removed.

The words speak to this unity and so does the melody. While most carols cover at least an octave and a half, testing either the upper or lower limits of the average singer, it barely moves at all in Angels we Have Heard. The simplicity goes back to early Christian chants, and the point is all people are able to join in singing.

One unfamiliar phrase in the song is the latine refrain “Glory in excelsis dei.” It means “Glory to God in the highest.” God has done the greatest work in sending his Son and we out to give him glory for it. And glorifying God is the call for every person. We are to sing and live for him, not just a little, not just when it is easy, not just on Christmas, but we are to live for him in all we do. We are to give our utmost for his highest. Glory to him in the highest.

The voice of the angels on high cascades down to people below, sung sweetly, bravely, and delightfully by all people, bringing jubilee and glad tidings and Glory to God in the highest! Let us rise to sing.

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Oh shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Angels we have heard
Angels we have heard on high
Angels we have heard

    ●  Silent Night- Yianni spoken Word. On Dec 23 1818, a small village in the Austrian Alps was preparing to celebrate Christmas and was blanketed in a deep blizzard. The church organ broke and due to the storm was unable to be repaired in time for service. The assistant pastor took a walk outside to contemplate what to do and gazing at the glowing Christmas card like hillside brought to mind a poem he wrote years before, a poem about the night angels announced the birth of the long awaited messiah, and the peace that surrounded a young virgin holding a child. In just a few hours they came up with a melody that could be played on guitar. The words and song remind quieting peace Christ brings to anxious hearts just like a snow quiets bustling villages. We are going to listen to this song and be reminded what Christ has done for us.

    ●  Born is the King-Youth

*I am going to need a little help with this next song.* We have been singing and learning about traditional Christmas carols, but Christmas is not just about what has happened in the past and the joy others have experienced in Christ. It is about each of us celebrating Christ together. It’s about us celebrating the King born to us. Its us singing new songs. Old generations are brought together with younger and new songs emerge. Seeing new generations worship him.

    ●  Joy to the World. At Christmas time we celebrate Christ’s birth, and this next song that is exclusively sung at Christmas is not about Christ’s birth but his second coming. Christ’s work going well beyond a manger and even a cross. He died for our sins, he was resurrected, now sits at the right hand of God, but he also promises to come back and set the world right, to judge evil.

We currently live in a fallen world. When sin entered people were handed over to hardship. Work is difficult and hard. Thorns infested the ground. We live and work in futility and hardship. These things often make us cry “Why is life so hard.” Its hard because of sin. Sin did this. It was not the original design, and it is not the permanent design. Christ is going to return and make us new, make the world new. It will be heaven on earth.

The world will sing his praise not resist it. The world will freely give its fruit not grudgingly withhold. All things will be made right. The frustrations of life will be taken away. The pain in relationships healed. Evil will be removed. His judgment also causes us to think about our own evil. Will you repent and believe, and have your sins taken by Christ, or will you pay for your sins yourself?

Psalm 98 speaks of the Lord coming to judge in righteousness. Because we can be forgiven for in Christ, by turning from it and trusting in him, the day of judgment is good news. We are to sing to the Lord a new song, to burst with joy-filled song, to make music with the harp and trumpets. All the world and all who live in it are to sing, rivers to clap their hands and mountains sing for joy. The Lord is come. And we ought to receive our king with complete allegiance to him and his ways.

Announcements and then...

Conclusion:We experience joy at Christmas time because our thoughts are directed upward to something beyond the daily grind, we are reminded to be kind and compassionate to others, we also are reminded we have something that is worth singing about. Many of us go through day to day life feeling lonely, depressed, isolated, confused and constantly looking for escape. Christmas gives us a break from that. But Christmas is not meant to be a seasonal event. Christ work should lead to a life of hope, joy, and guidance. We want to invite you to come back next week or in the new year to better know how the Christmas hope changes every day.