Good morning First Baptist. We welcome you to worship this morning. Be sure to remember your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the week as you pray for them, and as the Holy Spirit brings their faces to your mind. Be sure to also connect with them in the ways that are possible. And if you have any questions or would like to talk to someone, please don’t hesitate to contact the church through the church telephone and leave a message. (519-733-4144)
Welcome and Opening Prayer
This night, O God, we seek patience. We yearn to celebrate the birth of Your Beloved, and in our excitement, we forget that You have planted us in a particular place. Lord, in our waiting, keep us attentive to our fields and flocks, trusting that Your glory shines around us here as we worship this night. We celebrate that by Your Grace, Love came, held safely within a gentle womb and all the truth, majesty, and creativity of a living God was poured into a tiny heart making a quiet entrance in a dark and uninviting space. Just one star shone anew as a handful of people were brought Led by angelic voices, and open hearts A young mother A faith-filled father And a group of humble herdsmen They came to bow before a new life And acknowledge that the rescuer had arrived That the Word of God had come alive And that the extraordinary transformation of heaven and earth Had begun.
Words of AffirmationTonight we celebrate the knowledge that through the sending of Jesus, God lifts up those who are downtrodden, offers a grace-filled presence to those who are broken, Church, join with us tonight as together we stand firm in the light of God’s promise – Welcome to Christmas Eve
Scripture Reading - Luke 2:1-20
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 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.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 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.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Advent Candle Reading
Purple is a strong colour; it’s serious, because something serious happened. At one time, only kings and queens could wear purple. Our candles are purple to remind us that a King is coming, but He was not the kind of king that people thought was coming. This King had no army, no palace, and no gold. This King was a baby who was born in a barn. The King who was coming is still coming. This is full of mystery. Mysteries can be hard to enter, so that is why this time of Advent has been so important. It has helped us to get ready to enter the Mystery of Christmas. Christmas is such a great mystery that it takes a long time to get ready.
We have been travelling to Bethlehem over the past 4 weeks to find the best gift, the biggest present ever. Maybe it is in this “adventing”, this preparing of our hearts and minds and souls, that these stories we repeat, become our song of joy. We sing to one another this joyful song on this journey as we remind each other that God gives God and we need only slow long enough to unwrap the greatest gift with our time; time in His word, time in His presence, time at His feet.
Tonight, we light the Christ candle. (Light Christ candle FIRST) It is pure white! Now everything has changed! Jesus, the pure light of the world has come to be with us.
When we began our Advent preparation began, our Hope candle was lit first. We remember the Prophets who came so close to God that they knew God was telling them to tell us that this King was coming. They said, “Stop, Watch. Pay attention. Something incredible is going to happen in Bethlehem.” Long before He was born, they announced that Hope was on the way.
We then lit our peace candle. A good king will reign and bring peace to his kingdom. Will a baby King? When Jesus had grown up, He taught us that His kingdom was different, our hearts become His kingdom when we let Him reign or control our lives. A King like that brings peace from within us to spill on everyone around us.
Next came our joy candle. We remember the shepherds and how scared they were when the angels appeared, but how that fear turned to wonder, anticipation, excitement as they ran to Bethlehem to see this Promised baby King. And OH! The complete joy they had when they saw that sweet baby that dark night. A true light to chase away the darkness. This is the Joy they shared with everyone!
Our love candle. Well, doesn’t this just say it all. God did all of this because He just can’t stop loving us. God loved us all the way to the cross and then back again!
Perhaps this particular year, we feel especially serious on our journey to Bethlehem. Perhaps even our everyday and familiar places have become strange, and we feel frightened, and our hearts beat louder. I wonder what song of joy can we listen for? What comfort and good news can we share with each other?
Watch as I change this light.
Jesus is our true Hope. (relight the Hope candle with the Christ candle)
Jesus is our true Peace. (relight the Peace candle)
Jesus is our true Joy. (relight the Joy candle) Our joy candle is the colour of roses. The colour of pure celebration!
Jesus is pure Love. (relight the Love candle)
Lights twinkle on trees. Follow their lights up and up until your eyes gaze toward heaven to remind us of the only place from where our rescue comes! Here within the glow of the lights and candles the song of joy sings to us sweetly. This one true light has come to give us all light. And our light was meant to share with everyone. We sing these stories of joy to one another to help each other relight flames that dim and burn low. Because God has come to Be. With. Us!
Because of Jesus, the light of hope, peace, joy and love never needs to go out.
Our Hope has Come.
Our Hope Has Come
I don’t know much but this I know…
Today's Message with Pastor Marlee and Pastor Dave
All through these past weeks of advent, where we have been lighting each of the candles in our wreath, we’ve been talking about hope: hope in different manifestations, and God’s message has been clear – In Jesus, hope has come!
And as we light the Christ candle tonight, we are presented with the very fact that we are to worship HIM, that God sent to give us hope. Him that was to be the light of the world. Him who was and is the needed expression of Love that our world has become some desperate for. However, there’s a problem with this receiving of hope for some of us. This problem we know is that for many of us 2021, like the year that preceded it, has not felt all that hope filled, has it? As you know, our message theme throughout these past four weeks has been “Our Hope Has Come”. Somebody asked me a couple of weeks ago if our hope had really come then where did it go? Because I don’t seem to have found it during this COVID Time. If any part of that is you this evening, then We have some important words for you.
Traditionally we would base the message around the gospel of Luke tonight – the Nativity. Luke’s Gospel tells us the birth narrative of Jesus. You know the one that Linus reveals to us in the great “Charlie Brown Christmas”. We don’t plan to be that traditional tonight. We want to read to you from a letter that might be fairly distant for some of you – not Luke two but Hebrews chapter two.
I Don’t know much but this I know, that tonight we have gathered to celebrate God’s rescue plan for us – the Incarnation – the sending of His Son.
This part of God’s word help us to see four beautiful pictures of Jesus – The God-Man sent to dwell among us:
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 2:9 – 18
9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them,[e] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
I don’t know much but this I know…
Jesus was the King who got involved (2:9)
Have you ever heard of the Bystander effect – unfortunately it’s pretty common today – we have lots of examples. The Bystander effect is a phenomenon in which people are less likely to help someone in an emergency due to the presence of the people (bystanders) around them. If you watch the news feeds today, over and over again we see instances where nobody wants to get involved; nobody wants to put themselves at risk to help another unless you count videoing the incident with their cellphone as getting involved.
Jesus is the opposite of that. In fact, Jesus is the wall that the bystander effect crashes against. Think about this, Jesus was not just an ordinary citizen; He was the King of the Universe.
He didn’t just get involved with us at the risk of His life, but He jumped in with everything, at the cost of His life. He accepted death for each of us. The sorry reality of our history is that we deserved punishment; Jesus took it.
Vs. 10: In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered.
I don’t know much but this I know…
Jesus is The Pioneer who saves (2:10, 14–15)
Vs. 10, says He is the “pioneer” of our salvation, but that word should really be translated “originator” or “founder.” Some of your Bibles may even say “Captain.” In the old days of antiquity, battles were sometimes settled by selecting a representative to fight on behalf of the army. Think David and Goliath in the context of that battle being decided by David’s defeat of Goliath In that same manner of speaking, Jesus fought death on our behalf and defeated it. What was He fighting? The one thing we are most terrified of, at least in our rational moments.
Death is the one thing that terrifies us all: Sigmund Freud, said that the fear of death dominates our consciousness: On the one hand, he said, we have a death wish—feelings of guilt, shame, not living up to what we ought to; on the other hand there is an enormous fear of death, it seems like the end of everything; the unknown. We hate to think about it. Yet the reality is that we have to think about it! The reality is Your life is vapor and as the fear of death does, inevitably creep up on us, it keeps us, vs. 15 in captivity … vs. 15, “… and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.!”
Death is terrifying because you feel like it is the end. We get desperate, because you wonder if this life is your only shot. Or we start to panic when you see yourself aging because we recognize it is the process of dying. And then when we get older, we start to obsess about building a legacy, so that we will be remembered. Sometimes we are terrified of death because we fear the judgment of God and so you start obsessing about appeasing Him and wondering if you’ve done enough to go to heaven.
Hear this tonight – Our founder, Immanuel, God with us – JESUS CHRIST took our greatest fear, death and put it away. Verse. 14 says He became what we were: vs.14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—Jesus chose to conquer death by death!!
And now, death’s power has been defeated and he’s taking the fear out of it. Our enemy’s greatest weapon—the weapon within all other weapons—was death and fear. Our founder defeated them both.
Remember the Apostle Paul says, “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” God chose to send us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only religious leader to have done that. The only religious leader to have gone into the grave and come back!
verse 13 That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers.
I don’t know much but this I know…
Jesus is a brother who is not ashamed of us (2:13)
I was trying to think of how to ask this question sensitively, but do you ever have somebody in your family you were just not sure about? The weird uncle. Or relative… Be Honest, everybody who had a younger sibling remembers when you were in public school and being embarrassed by that younger sibling. Your own hold on coolness was so fragile you couldn’t sustain their uncoolness.
You and I, we were the family member Jesus should have been unsure of ….or even ashamed of. But he wasn’t. He intentionally identified with you; He claimed you by coming down into our world – He says, “That’s my brother!” “That’s my sister!”
I love looking sometimes through Jesus’ genealogy. It was common in those days for kings to publish their genealogies, and one of the things they would do is try to show all the powerful people in their ancestry. You would say, “Wow, this guy comes from a powerful line!” If there were somebody embarrassing in your ancestry, you’d just kind of leave them out of the official genealogy.
But then you read Jesus’ genealogy and you see things like:
- Rahab, a prostitute.
- Unwed mothers.
- A girl who was raped by her uncle.
- David’s illegitimate son born out of adultery.
- People who failed and embarrassed themselves.
These were the people Jesus included in His genealogy. He was not ashamed. They were His brothers and sisters. He’s not ashamed of you!
verse 16 …for surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants.
You’ve got something the angels are jealous of. Angels can’t be saved. About 1/3 of the angels rebelled against God, too. But Jesus didn’t take on the flesh of an angel. He could have. He could have become angel and not human. But He chose to take on ours.
- 1 Peter says that the angels long to look into the gospel! Think about that: angels—beings that stand all day long before the throne of God, long to feel the love that you are offered in the gospel!
No, he’s not ashamed of you – don’t you ever think that – He loves you! He came for you!
Verse 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
I don’t know much but this I know…
Jesus is a priest who can help
The simplest definition we can offer for “priest”: Someone you go to for help. Jesus is the best priest
- Jesus is the best priest because He understands; personally. People often read vs. 17 … and get confused “Why did his suffering enable him to help us? Was He not able to help us before that?” Or look back up at vs. 10, “He made the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering”? Wasn’t He perfect before that? Yes, He was. God has always known everything. He couldn’t be more perfect than He already was.
The truth in this verse is that for us today, it helps us to know that when we pray, we pray to a God who has felt everything we ever feel.
- He knows what the lure of temptation is like, first hand.
- He knows what it is like to be tired and hungry.
- He knows what it is like to weep,
- He knows what is like to experience betrayal and rejection by a dysfunctional family
- Or be stabbed in the back by friends—close friends;
He understands. And sometimes just knowing that He knows firsthand helps us.
I Don’t know much but this I know – JESUS: (1) A king who got involved; (2) The Pioneer who saves; (3) a brother who is not ashamed; (4) the great high priest who can help.
This is who Jesus is to you. Or, at least, who He wants to be if you will let Him.
That’s what the writer repeats over and over throughout this book. Whatever is going on; whatever you struggle with: Look to Jesus! God sent His Son so that we might have a Saviour who would do what we would never be capable of ourselves.
- Do you lack courage? Look at Jesus seated upon the throne. His opinion is the only one that matters! If He is for you, who can be against you?
- Are you overwhelmed with despair? Look at the resurrected Jesus! Our pioneer, king, brother, and priest reigns supreme?
- Are you lonely? Your brother and your friend will never leave you or forsake you.
- Are you struggling in faith? Striving to understand? Sometimes that can be Me too. Look at the glory of Jesus.
I don’t know much but this I know: In Jesus, I can show you a God who, by sending His Son, conquered your greatest enemy and reveals His plans for good for us and is now seated on the throne of the universe.
Whatever you lack—what you need is not a new command; a new teaching; a new meditation or a new motivation: it is a Saviour in Whom to trust and find refuge.
That’s the difference between the gospel and religion. Religion looks at the mess of our lives and says “do better next time”; try harder; the gospel simply says look upon Jesus and see what He’s done….for you.
Maybe all your life, you’ve been told: get to know yourself; find the strength within.
Well, I don’t know much but this I do know: God’s word says, “No, you’re not meant to go this alone. God says I sent my son for you - so get to know Him. Because on this night we celebrate the night that God’s love for you was born.
God of our Salvation,
we come to You on this wondrous night to gather in praise,
to lift up your name with friend, family, and stranger.
In the beginning, Your creative work began with a word,
and tonight, Your creation continues with the Word made flesh.
On this holiest of nights, we join the everlasting chorus saying:
Glory to God on highest! Great is Your name in all the earth!
Like Mary, we ponder these things in our hearts,
and wonder how You could love us so much
as to actually become one of us, one with us.
We remember these stories this evening
that remind us of Your steadfast love,
that affirm that You have never, and will never, give up on Your children.
Thank you for Your steadfast presence in our lives!
And yet, even on this night on which we celebrate the fulfillment of love,
we recognize that there are many who are still waiting for fulfillment:
the fulfillment of adequate food and shelter…
the fulfillment of peace and the end of violence…
the fulfillment of reprieve from the fierce grip of grief…
the fulfillment of a restoration of a broken relationship…
the fulfillment of a renewing of heart, mind, or body…
the fulfillment of healing from a chronic illness…
the fulfillment of an end to substance abuse…
give us the courage to do Your work in the world and to share the peace coming to us in the manger this evening.
We pray this night especially for those who have traveled to be here…
for those who have lost loved ones in the past year…
for those who struggle with mental illness…
for those who fight alcoholism’s onslaught…
for those who will be traveling in the coming days and weeks…
for those who work on Christmas:
especially medical workers, police, and emergency personnel…
for those who cannot make it home for Christmas…
hear us we pray, O God,
May the light that began at creation, continued through the witness of the prophets, and has come to fullness at the Birth of Jesus Christ , be in your hearts and minds this evening.
May the light of this child light your way forever. Know that the blessings which broke through the darkness on this night are meant for you.
May you always have cause to sing His praises, give Him thanks, and celebrate Him – the true light of the world, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas and Peace and much Love to each of you.