Virus Alert! – Christmas Eve 2020


“Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 

— Luke 2:10-11


Christmas Eve Service 2020

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Scripture Reading

Luke 2:1-7

1 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.


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Children’s Time – “The Nativity Story”

This night is like no other night. It is a time to dream and sing our way to Bethlehem. 

The little town we seek sits in the hill country some ten miles south of Jerusalem. For thousands of years, the houses have huddled there on the hilltop like a family breaking bread. “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread”.

All is still and quiet in the little town.

As night gathers, the last two travelers come slowly up the road with their donkey.  Here is a young woman about to be a mother. She is walking with her husband. They are Joseph and Mary from Nazareth! They have walked for six days to come to this place where David the King was born so long ago.

They have come, like so many others, because the Roman emperor wants to count each one, so he can take their money as a tax.

But it is late, and Mary is weary.  Where will they sleep?

There is no room in the inn. They decide to sleep with the animals.

Stars brighten slowly in the sky. All creation holds its breath. Suddenly, from the stable, comes the cry of a newborn child!  Mary gently wraps the baby in a blanket and lays him in the feed box filled with straw.

In the hills outside Bethlehem, shepherds watch their shadowy sheep. All at once, the dark is lost in light, and in the midst of the light is something even brighter: the faces of angels.

The fearful shepherds then hear singing in the sky, and a voice says, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by all people. Today in the City of David a Saviour is born! He is Christ, the Lord.”

Then more angels appear, a whole heavenly host of them, praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to all people, everywhere.”

The shepherds run with joy across the fields to Bethlehem to the barn behind the inn. There, they find the Holy Family and creep forward, overwhelmed with mystery, to find Nativity itself in the center of all that love.

Camels plod up the road to Bethlehem. They have come from the East far beyond the Arabian Desert perhaps as far as the Caspian Sea. The camels carry kings, the wise ones, and the Magi. They are following the wild star, the destiny they had never seen before. They are following it, wherever it goes, to find the King. Its shining will show them.

The Magi’s journey ends in a new kind of king. Their restlessness rests at last. They fall to their knees and give him bright gold, sweet-smelling frankincense and bitter myrrh, brought so far with so much love.

So now we all come, following the star, to find God-with-us. We come, as people have come all through the ages, to bring our own gifts to this Child, God’s gift to us.

Because Christmas was never about getting something big and shiny. It’s about God doing whatever it takes to be with us – Jesus, that tiny baby was the greatest rescue mission ever. God coming so close to us. And we do whatever it takes to be with Him.

Song - “I Wonder As I Wander” Appalachian Carol Performed by Rev. Alex Moir

Message: Virus Alert!

Welcome to Christmas Eve, 2020!  Only, we’re not meeting in your sanctuary … you’re either viewing this “service” from your home or you’ve received a hard copy via the kindness of our volunteers from First Baptist.  No sounds of happy conversation or laughter, no hugging or warm handshakes … no singing of carols or hand exchanging of gifts or Christmas cards.  And outside the walls of the sanctuary the same reality is being played out.  The stores have been closed for over a week now and our streets, with the exception of delivery trucks, are quiet.  If you had suggested this type of scenario as you all gathered exactly one year ago, no one would have believed you.

Yet we know by now that this is all for a good cause.  We dare not take any chances with this Corona virus, which is highly contagious and can be dangerous for some.  We’re beginning to see “a light at the end of the tunnel” many say.  With the arrival of several vaccines the experts tell us that we should be turning the corner of this challenge sometime in 2021.  So, if we can just hang in there for a few more months or weeks …

But I wonder if we should be thinking further ahead than that.  Of course, there will come a time when this virus is at least tamed and we can return to some semblance of life as we knew it.  But I want to remind all of us that what will remain after this Covid virus is brought under some degree of control are the other diseases we’ve come to know and respect … influenza, for which many of us have already been vaccinated this fall, and our old friend the common cold, along with other health issues too many to mention in this short piece.   The arrival of the COVID vaccines will not herald the end of illness.  No doubt we shall all heave a huge sigh of relief when the numbers begin to come down.  But the fact of the matter is this … life, by its very nature, is contagious and we will always be on the look-out for the tell-tale signs of sickness.

No matter how much we may trust in medical science, life is a risky proposition … and not just because of the various bugs that may be floating around.  Just living itself is a challenge and we all experience it, from the youngest amongst us to the oldest.  From the friendship dramas played out in the school playground, to the struggle of entering adulthood … then the gargantuan effort it sometimes takes to make ends meet, careers that sometimes fail, as well as the heartache that can be a part of family life.  All these represent “illnesses” that we would like to avoid.  But our common humanity does not allow such a luxury.

One of our faith heroes is the apostle Paul (we might go ahead and call him the first “superintendent” of the Christian church), who writes about these challenges in a letter to the early group of Christians who lived in Rome.  In v. 28 of the eighth chapter we read, “All things work together for good, for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”  What Paul is so helpfully suggesting here is something we desperately need …  a purpose for our challenges and suffering.  He is not saying that God, the “Father of Lights” causes these heartaches … rather, that He is not absent as we go through them.

It’s at this time that it might be helpful for us to issue a “virus alert.”  We can’t avoid contagion forever!  And, in fact, there are some things we need to “catch”.  Values are “caught, not taught” I’ve heard some say.  You’ve probably heard the expression, “contagious enthusiasm” in the context of a team, crew or staff.  And most of us who have had the “privilege” of supervision know the value of modeling a work ethic for those around us.  This is what we might refer to as catching something that will do us all some good.

But even the tough things mentioned above, which we do our best to avoid in life, can result in the “good” that Paul mentioned to his Roman friends.  Going through such “virus-like” experiences can make us into better people, more understanding to others who may be going through similar experiences.  And by enduring difficult times, we discover caring ones around us and God’s spirit which can help us into healing.

I remember witnessing a spot in the journey of someone who was going through just what we’re addressing here.  It was the occasion of the annual youth service at the church I was serving as pastor.  It was a Sunday where our young people took the entire service, including the message, which was usually shared by two or three of the kids, giving testimony to how God was working in their lives.  We all held our collective breath as Beth got up to speak.  Within the last few months, she had lost her Mom due to suicide, a woman well known in our congregation.  The church rallied around her Dad and sisters … but I think our youth ministry, under the leadership of one of our local business leaders, did exemplary work in helping these young sisters through this crisis.  Beth shared a wonderful testimony that morning, ending with the sentence that went something like this; “I have learned through all of this that God enters into every place in my life … even the sad places.”  You’ve heard the expression, “not a dry eye in the place” …

After this COVID crisis we will need to decide which “bugs” to avoid and which ones we are glad to “catch.”  One of the best ones to embrace might be one we could call the “Advent Virus” which is described on a separate attachment I’ve included for all of us to read. May our God grant us the ability to live life fully, not shrinking in fear, and to become infected for the good!




We yearn, our Father, for the simple beauty of Christmas – for all the old familiar melodies and words that remind us of that great miracle when He who had made all things was one night to come as a Babe, to lie in the crook of a woman’s arm.

Before such mystery we kneel, as we follow the Shepherds and Wise Men to bring Thee the gift of our love – a love we confess that has not always been as warm or sincere or real as it should have been.  But now, on this Christmas Eve, that love would find its Beloved, and from Thee receive the grace to make it pure again, warm and real. 

We bring Thee our gratitude for every token of Thy love.  Amen.

By Peter Marshall


“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord told us about.” 
— Luke 2:15

Advent Virus Warning

Be on the alert for symptoms of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.  The hearts of a great many persons have already been exposed to the Advent Virus, and it is possible that people everywhere could become contaminated.  This could become an epidemic if not checked quickly.  It would pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict and distrust in the church and world.

Some signs and symptoms of the Advent Virus:

  • A tendency to think and act with others in mind;
  • An unmistakable ability to enjoy the present moment;
  • A loss of interest in judging or condemning other people;
  • A loss of interest in conflict and arguing;
  • A loss of the ability to worry (a very serious symptom!);
  • Frequent, inexplicable episodes of appreciation;
  • Frequent feelings of connectedness with others;
  • Frequent attacks of smiling and/or humming;
  • An inexplicable sense of contentedness;
  • A peculiar loss of self-centeredness;
  • A tendency to let go of control and allow things to happen;
  • A tendency to read the Bible and pray;
  • An increasing susceptibility to friendliness in others, and
  • An uncontrollable urge to share it with others.

Be on the Alert!  The Advent Virus is highly contagious!

Some suggestions to avoid a download into your system (soul):

  • Stay away from people who believe in God;
  • Keep your mind closed to new spiritual messages;
  • Focus on your self-serving priorities;
  • Find excuses to avoid worship and praise God;
  • Do not open messages that speak of … forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, joy, faith, hope or love.

Pass this warning on immediately!  For many, it is already too late, and their systems have been wiped clean by it!