Christmas Eve Service – December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve.

Candle Light Service . December 24,2020.

Luke 2:1-20

The Birth of Jesus
(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 Quirinius was governor of Syria.) (3) And everyone went to his 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 room for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels
(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 of great joy that will be for all the people. (11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ 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, and on earth peace to men 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.
Our Message tonight is:
The Forgotten Message “.

“Love Came Down at Christmas.”

Years ago the cartoon strip “Family Circus” carried a cartoon that illustrates what happens so often at Christmas. It showed a little girl holding her baby brother in her lap and telling him the story of Christmas. Here is how her account read:
“Jesus was born just in time for Christmas, up at the North Pole, surrounded by tiny reindeer and the Virgin Mary. Then Santa Claus showed up with lots of toys and stuff and some swaddling clothes.
“The three wise men and elves all sang carols while the Little Drummer Boy and Scrooge helped Joseph trim the tree. In the meantime, Frosty the Snowman saw this star…”
It’s easy to see how she could be confused. So many secular trappings surround the celebration of Christ’s birth, that we could easily lose track of the real meaning of this wonderful season. We to often lose track of what is important.
While writing this message, I’m reminded of a nearly tragic incident that occurred years ago. When I working as a truck mechanic for Frito lay and every so often, I would have to go out on, what we called a ”road call”. Just in case you didn’t know,” Road calls” were necessary when we would receive a call from a driver who’s truck broke down and left him stranded. Then whoever was available, would load whatever they needed to assist in repairing the problem and go to that location.
This particular road call happened one late December day, when a driver’s truck broke down in a shopping mall parking lot in upstate NY. It must have been in the single digits, temperature wise, and may I say I was not looking forward to this road call. Upon arrival, as I was repairing the drivers truck. I noticed a car not far from me with a frantic mother and another woman hovering over another man trying to unlock their car with a coat hanger. So I walked over and asked if I could assist them. The mother almost instantly  said, “Yes Please!” Then feeling guilty and ashamed, she went on to explain.
It seemed her, 10-month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside this parked car by her. While she waited for her aunt to return from making, what was supposed to be a quick trip inside the mall. She turned the car off and got out to help a woman parked next to her and realized the doors had locked with the keys inside. Not knowing what to do she ran inside and try to find her aunt. This took longer than she anticipated and by the time they returned the car was extremely cold and her aunt didn’t have a spare key.
So they asked this young man who was retrieving the shopping carts for help.
The young man agreed to help and immediately ran into the mall and emerged with a coat hanger and attempted to unlock the car, with that coat hanger. It was obvious, by the time I arrived, he was having no luck getting into the car and the infant inside was turning purple from the cold. It had become a life or death situation.
So I grabbed a hammer and smashed the side window of the car, reached in, opened the door and retrieved the baby and handed her to her mother.
Was I heralded as a hero? No! The Aunt and the mother were both upset with me because I broke the window. I just thought, “What’s more important, the baby or the window?”
I believe that’s a good question for us this Christmas Eve. What’s more important–the baby or the celebration? It’s an especially interesting question in our multi-cultural world. We don’t know what to do with the baby anymore.
In years past, probably not this year due to Covid 19 and the guidelines we’re suppose to follow. Every December, schools across the nation would make preparations to celebrate Christmas by calling them, “Winter Festivals”. Most of the time, they are pale attempts to celebrate Christmas without any mention of God or Jesus Christ. We understand, but it is frustrating not to be able to let people know that the baby is the reason for the celebration.
So, while preparing my message for tonight’s service, I found a story of one such, ”Winter Festival”:
Candy Smith and her husband attended a memorable “Winter Festival” at their son’s school. Bobby Smith was in kindergarten. The little ones were going to perform the customary songs about snow and Santa and candy canes. Bobby’s group began with the song “Christmas Love.” As they sang, each child held up a letter to spell out the title of the song. But a little girl in the middle of the front row got confused and held her letter upside down. She had the “M” in Christmas. Warm sighs and smiles flowed through the audience as they read the children’s message. Instead of “Christmas Love,” the upside-down “M” changed the message to “Christ Was Love.”
And it’s true. Christ was Love. That’s the forgotten message of Christmas. We need to state it in the present tense, today. Christ is Love! This Advent season for our opening praise we have been singing, “Love Came Down at Christmas,” and made that our theme. For we know that is what Christmas is all about. And we definitely shouldn’t forget it.
Christmas is all about love. We all know that it’s true. From the heart of the Creator straight into our lives. And it’s all wrapped up in a tiny babe surrounded by his mother, Mary and his father, Joseph, and cattle and sheep and shepherds, and later, wise men and above them lingers a star. Angels sing in the heavens and for one glorious night, we see a glimpse of why this world was created. It was created for love.
God made a “road call”, to our world. Because we couldn’t go to Him, He came to us. And because God came to us, everything is forever changed. And we best not forget it!

“Love Came Down at Christmas”!

Have a Love Filled Christmas!
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20201224

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