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)
Christmas Eve Service
Today's Message: Pastors Marlee Page and Dave Page, Laura Gaffan
Call to Worship
Tonight, we will journey through the scriptures telling of the birth of our Saviour… Immanuel – God with us and together we will sing some of the favourite Carols of the Season – thanks for joining us.
One quiet, darkened candle stands waiting. Four thousand years of waiting in cold, desolate sadness. Waiting for the advent of a Saviour – the promised One – the fulfillment of our longing.
Reading – Isaiah 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the year of the Lord’s favour has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
The faithful are watching, waiting for the moment when Word becomes flesh and darkness becomes light.
Reading – Isaiah 9:6-7
For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counsellor,[a] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!
This is the Hope the people longed as they waited. This is the Hope we put our faith in, this is the hope we celebrate tonight- the Arrival of Immanuel- God with us!
The Hope Candle is lit.
Reading – Luke 1:26-38
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favour with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Reading -Matthew 1:18-25
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
Reading – Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
Christ has come! The Saviour of the world, the Word incarnate, fully man, fully God, the Deliverer, delivered in a stable, laid in a manger, has come at last!
Reading – Luke 2:8-14
The Shepherds and Angels
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Saviour—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Of course, the announcement came in the dark of the night. Of course, the angels began their announcement to the shepherds with the words, “Don’t be afraid!” Because of course they were afraid. Because they were human, and there’s so much in our world that causes us to fear. There’s so much that happens that we struggle to understand. For the shepherds, that included why these magnificent, terrifying heavenly beings were showing up in the middle of the night sky.
But in Jesus, the Prince of Peace arrived on earth. that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
— Philippians 4:7, NIV
This is the rediscovery of the peace of Christ in this season.
The Peace Candle is lit.
Reading – Luke 2:15-20
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.
17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Reading – Luke 2:25-38
The Prophecy of Simeon
25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
as you have promised.
30 I have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared for all people.
32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations,
and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
The Prophecy of Anna
36 Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
We see in the story of Ana & Simeon how filled with Joy they are at witnessing the coming of the Messiah. They had been waiting a long time, they never lost hope- they kept their focus on the Messiah’s arrival as it was promised to them. They were ready and prepared to joyfully share the news, to help all Rediscover their joy in the news that HE Had Arrived…
The Apostle Peter said:
8 You love him even though you have never seen him; though not seeing him, you trust him; and even now, you are happy with the inexpressible joy that comes from heaven itself. 9 And your further reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
The Joy Candle is lit.
Reading – Matthew 2:1-12
Visitors from the East
2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men[a] from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities[c] of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”
9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.
See the gold. Smell the myrrh and frankincense. Who is this child before whom noblemen bow? He is the Saviour of the world, who will grow from a little boy into a man who restores sight to the blind; so that all may see the Light.
Jesus is the bridge of love that unites us. He is the long-promised Messiah, sent because God
loves us so much that He allowed His only Son to be the sacrifice for all our sins and shortcomings. And when He did, Jesus made the way for us to be restored into relationship with God, love Himself.
The Love Candle is lit.
Reading – John 1:1-5
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
The Christ Candle is lit.
The joy we sing of is not meant to be hidden. It’s meant to be REDISCOVERED over and over again. Now, our anticipation has become celebration for all the world to see! We carry the Light of the World out into the world!
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
May the light that began at creation be in your hearts and minds this evening.
May the light of this child light your way forever.
May you always have cause to sing, give thanks, and celebrate Him – the true light of the world, our JESUS. AMEN.
Blessings & Merry Christmas