Christmas Eve Service 24 December 2019 A.D. Holy Communion

Christmas Eve candle light service    24 December 2019    Holy Communion

  The Epistle: Titus 2:11-15                       The Gospel: St. Luke 2:1-14

                                   O GOD, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance
                                   of the birth of thine only Son Jesus Christ; 
                                  Grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer,
                                  so we may wit sure confidence behold him when he shall
                                  come to be our Judge, who liveth and reigneth with thee 
                                  and the Holy Ghost, one God, world with out end.    Amen 

 The Hope, Love, Joy, and Promise all fulfilled this night.  Please reflect upon the words of St. Luke as he describes that miraculous birth so many centuries ago. Think of the most humble and simple surroundings our Lord and Savior was born into, a place that we might avoid because it was so crude.   And yet the greatest gift, the Son of God, was delivered to this spot, in this time, at this juncture of history, all in God’s timing, the right event for the right time.
 The term reflect is used several times in tonight’s message, why, because we should also reflect the love of God to a lost world. We should reflect the Gospel, we should be the Gospel, to this dark and hopeless world.  Let us reflect the Love of God by sharing His Son Jesus, by word and deed, to a sad, lonely world of pain, hopelessness, and darkness.  Reflect.

  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, 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.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

After reflecting upon the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s look to the promise of his coming again, here in the words of St. Paul to his disciple Titus.  In this passage from the letter to Titus, Paul outlines the first and second coming of Christ, the once and for all sacrifice, propitiation, and sin covering death upon the Cross.  Here Paul admonishes us to step away from the world, to embrace the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Because he gave  himself to redeem us from all iniquity. He did this to set us apart from the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Let us reflect on Paul’s words now:

 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

   Now we can read of the finished work of Jesus Christ, our Savior, as Paul illustrates in the previous passage from his letter to Titus.  Notice the teaching: “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts,” with the immediate exhortation to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.  Paul didn’t have to peer into the future to see the chaos we know today, it has always been a part of the fallen world.  We are part and parcel of this fallen world. It is easier to do evil and to strive for godliness. It is easier to slide down the slippery slope of sin than to stand firm in the face of the clear and present evil. Are we hopeless, YES, by ourselves, we are hopeless.  But as Paul teaches the primary mission of God’s grace: bringing salvation to those He redeems. This salvation has appeared to all men, but only those whom God has revealed this Salvation will be redeemed.  Before you think that is not fair, remember the term fair is not found in the context of today’s all inclusive world.  Fair in the Bible referees to good looking or beautiful.  As in fair of face or fair to look upon, not the all inclusive concept that something isn’t fair because it doesn’t fit the secular world’s definition of fairness.  
What ?   Of yes, remember that Jesus is referred to several times in the Word as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”.  That would mean a non-elected authority, one who by His very being, is the King.  Democracy, republics, dictatorships, or any other form of human government need not be applied to the Biblical mode of God’s governance.  
 This is a primary reason we get into trouble.  We try to apply human understanding to the mind of God.  Sorry, wrong answer.  As Jeremiah once wrote, “does the clay say to the potter, why did you make me so?”   No the creature has no standing in as far as that question. “God, why did you make this system so?”  Reflect upon this passage ; “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.”. 

  Beloved, this night we need to worship the King. The commemoration of his first coming, his simple beginnings upon earth and then as we look forward to his second coming, a King upon his white horse. He causes us to look for that blessed hope, and that glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. He who redeems us from all iniquity, he who purifies unto himself a peculiar people....    Let us worship the King.

Let us pray.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, guide, we beseech thee, the Nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that they may become the Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

O LORD Jesus Christ, who saidst unto thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church; and grant to it that peace and unity which is according to thy will; in particular, we beseech thee to continue thy gracious protection to us this night. Defend us from all dangers and mischiefs, and from the fear of them; that we may enjoy such refreshing sleep as may fit us for the duties of the coming day. And grant us grace always to live in such a state that we may never be afraid to die; so that, living and dying, we may be thine, through the merits and satisfaction of thy Son Christ Jesus, in whose Name we offer up these our imperfect prayers. Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

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