Rediscover Christmas – Christmas Day Service

WELCOME

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)

Songs

Call to Worship

Lighting of the ADVENT Candles:

Throughout this season we have lived, waited, and remembered the hope, peace, joy, and love of God found in Christ.

Today we gather together and light candles in honour of the Christ Child.

With the birth of Christ, salvation has drawn near. The God who ordered the chaos of the universe has come down into the chaos of our world. The Word which was with God at the beginning came down and lived with us. While we were yet living in the valley of the shadow of death, the light of new life burst forth.

We light this candle for Christ.

On this Christmas morning, we remember God has come in the Christ Child.

Songs

Prayer

O God, You have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of a new day and of the brightness of Your true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy Him perfectly in heaven; where with You and the Holy Spirit He lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Rediscover Christmas Christmas Day

Today's Message: Pastors Marlee Page and Dave Page, Laura Gaffan

Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Take your pick of the greeting. We are here! We have made it to Christmas Day. Did you ever think we would? For so many of us Christmas can’t come soon enough!

I think that’s true for all of us this year. What a year it’s been! Another year like no other we’ve ever seen or lived through.

This morning we complete our journey together, where over the past weeks of Advent we’ve REDISCOVERED together that Advent is a season of expectant waiting as we focus and reflect on Christ’s coming—His coming to earth on that first Christmas long ago and His eventual triumphant return to earth to complete God’s ultimate work of redemption.

As we have retold it over these past weeks, the Christmas story is a powerful story, filled with wonder and miracles and very real life. It is the story of Jesus come to earth as the most wonderful gift of all eternity. As we have walked through various parts of the Christmas story these past four weeks, we have explored the intersection of Jesus in the lives of real people who played a role in His arrival.

Part of our own REDISCOVERY of the Christmas story, has been the realization that the birth of Christ brings together a wide variety of people across many different divides and contrasts.

If we walk through the story in order, we start with Zechariah and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph—the old and the young. The prophets and covenants of Israel’s past and the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah and the new spiritual future. The separation and death of the past and the restoration and life now present.

Then we meet the shepherds and the angels—the beings of earth and of heaven, the physical and the spiritual. And as they head to the stable, there are animals as well as humans, the beings of creation. And here we can look to Matthew’s Christmas account and meet the Magi.

Who were these mysterious visitors from the East? We’re not entirely sure, but we know they had followed a star a long distance to find and worship the promised Messiah. Some scholars think they may have been from China. At any rate, whether they are most likely astrologers or some kind of rulers, the Magi are noble and wealthy men who demonstrate God bridging even more divides. The Magi are the esteemed opposite to the lowly shepherds in human social structures. But importantly, they are Gentiles, not Jews, and their inclusion in Jesus’s birth story echoes the radical idea that Christ the Messiah brings salvation and restoration to all people.

The Magi are also holy men of some sort. They seem to belong to more of a mystical tradition than the Jewish leaders’ structure, but they importantly contrast the spiritual Jewish leaders of the day. There are no Pharisees and Sadducees and spiritual VIPS of the time who are invited to Jesus’s birth. Instead, they are these travellers of a different race who receive an audience with King Herod (albeit one with sinister intentions), yet who are willing to disrupt their lives with a great journey and humble themselves to worship the baby of a poor, unassuming couple in the countryside.

The cast of characters God assembled for the arrival of His Son on earth is far from the expectations any of us would have imagined. And probably even farther from the expectations of the people of that time, who lived and breathed within that culture and its divisions.

To us, it may seem like a ragtag bunch. To them, it was downright blasphemous that the Messiah would be so lowly and associated with the full spectrum of unclean humanity and creation. 

Could Jesus have united any more divisions simply by being born? I can’t think of how. He pretty much covered them all. And in so doing, God reveals something about the depth of His love for you and I.

In our time together today, there’s one last person of the Christmas story that we’ve not addressed…He’s the guest of honour, the start of the show…. He’s the light of the world!

Finding Christ in Our World

Today we celebrate the truth that Christ has come with hope, peace, joy, and love.

Christ has come to change our world—and us—forever.

This is His arrival into our world as described by Luke:

“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”

— Luke 2:6-7, NIV

It’s such a humble birth, such an understated beginning to life, yet such a normal entry into our existence. Human birth as a fragile, helpless baby. Jesus is one of us, able to understand everything we go through, all of our longings and struggles and pain. Yet Jesus is God. He literally is hope, joy, peace, and love personified, here to restore these characteristics in us as a by-product of restored life in relationship with God.

Jesus is life rediscovered.

Friends, if you are struggling this year, asking, “Where is Jesus?” let me offer this.

Jesus is …

In our uncertainties, struggles, discouragement, and our differences.

In the sending of His Son, God was intentional about Jesus’ birth crossing a divide. Through His humble birth, Jesus reached across the cultural, spiritual, political, and racial divisions and calls us to do the same. He was illustrating the kind of love John describes later in 1 John 4:

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love”

— 1 John 4:18-19, NIV

Jesus’s love is a fearless love that calls us and enables us to cross the borders, to tear down the barriers, to reach out above the disagreements. So often, the fear that is driven out by love is the fear within ourselves.

Jesus’  Love overcomes the fear of the other, who may not look like us or sound like us or share the same perspective or experience as us. Yes – Jesus is there….

There is a humility in love, a willingness to put someone else first. Sometimes love means taking the simple step of building that bridge as a gesture and an invitation. Sometimes it’s being willing to listen and not defend. It is always being willing to choose to see someone else, not as other, but as us, equally loved by God, equally welcomed into His presence, equally drawn into and propelled out of His miraculous, divine, all-consuming love.

This is God’s love. This is the gift of Christ. This is the heart of Christmas.

Where is Jesus ? Wherever you are, Jesus is there.
In our celebration and mourning.
In our crying and rejoicing.
In our fear and in our triumphs.
In our losses and our victories.
In our brokenness and healing.
In our sickness and our health.
In our life and our death.
Wherever you are, Jesus is there.

And He is working, and He is moving. He is offering life and forgiveness. He is calling us to trust and to see beyond our immediate circumstances to His deeper, bigger, broader, wider, higher picture and work.

Jesus is in our world and in our lives.

He is Immanuel, God with Us, for eternity. And He will never leave you or forsake you.

Jesus is the discovery of Christmas. Our prayer for you this Advent -Christmas season is that like the shepherds you have truly encountered Him. That you’ve had opportunity to worship and find renewal in His presence this year.

We hope that through God’s Holy Spirit working in you that you have rediscovered Christmas.

Our family – Merry Christmas! Jesus has come! Christ is here among us! And Our Saviour will come again!

Prayer

O God, creator of the universe and giver of all good gifts to us, Your children – Why are You so good to us?

On this Christmas Sunday, we thank You that You have not forgotten us, abandoned us, or rejected us, despite all that speaks against us.  We thank You that You have come to us, in Your perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

Today we gather to celebrate your gift of hope, peace, joy and love. Because we have learned to trust You, we bring to You all that troubles us: our mistakes and failings, our sorrows and cares, our rebellion and bitterness, and our whole heart and life.  All that is better known to You than to ourselves.

This morning we offer ourselves to You just as we are, and we pray for strength in our weaknesses and for help to be responsible with the abundance of Your goodness.  We thank You for the music of the season that reminds us of Your love that embraces us at the time we need it, the way we need it the most.

This morning we are reminded that You desire for us to learn to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with You and that Your offer of peace on earth begins in our hearts before it gets lived out in the world. Give us the wisdom and insight needed to become instruments of Your love and peace.

We pray that You be born in our hearts today so that we may have a clear and courageous witness to Your love.

O God, on this Christmas Sunday, we offer ourselves to You in the same spirit in which You have offered Yourself to us. We offer ourselves in the name of Jesus the Christ who taught us to pray saying:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Amen”

Song

Benediction

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

— Luke 2:10-14, NIV

Merry Christmas!