This is the script with leading descriptors and scripture which was used during the annual Christmas Gathering. No full essay/sermon, just thoughts to share and discuss supported by scripture. By including the hymns, one can see connections to all elements of the service portion of the evening.
Share the “The Reality of Christmas”
- Look at what God saw when the prophets began announcing the coming of the Messiah
- Consider what the faithful believed would happen
- How did time affect the faithful
The Words of the Prophet (NLT)
Psalm 2 (1,000 years before Christ was born)
1 Why are the nations so angry?
Why do they waste their time with futile plans? . . .
4 But the one who rules in heaven laughs.
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then in anger he rebukes them,
terrifying them with his fierce fury.
6 For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne
in Jerusalem,[a] on my holy mountain.”
10 Now then, you kings, act wisely!
Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
11 Serve the Lord with reverent fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Submit to God’s royal son,[e] or he will become angry,
and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities—
for his anger flares up in an instant.
But what joy for all who take refuge in him!
Isaiah (about 750 years before Christ was born)
7:13-56 13 Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? 14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin[f] will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). . . .
9: 1-2 . . . in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
Answers to the prophets found in the New Testament
Luke 2:4-6 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,
Hymn 230 O Little Town of Bethlehem
Matthew 1:17 17 All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah.
Luke 2:1-7 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.
Hymn 217 Away in the Manger (with Kids leading in Chilhowee)
The Reality of Christmas is now:
- Jesus, the baby, arrives and the present begins.
- Time is a human determination, not God’s
- Look at the world through God’s eyes and ask: Are we faithful? Why are the nations so angry (like in Psalms 2)? Have we exhausted God’s patience (like in Isaiah)?
- The reality is that God did send his savior, a very real man who walked on the earth, who demonstrated the ideals God had for his children.
- We carry the Word from generation to generation, from country to country, from one home to the next home . . . and the Word lives.
Hymn 242 Love Came Down at Christmas
New Testament shares the Word:
Luke 2:8-12 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 Savior—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.”
Hymn 238 Angels We Have Heard on High
The Reality of Christmas is now.
- The wise men knew the story.
- The prophecies are fulfilled.
- We know the message to share.
- We hold on to love and to justice.
The New Testament shares the Wise Men’s story
Matthew 2:1-6 and 10-12 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,[b] 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:
. . . 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.
The reality of Christmas is . . .
- God never gives up on his children
- What happened before Jesus’ birth is the past, but Jesus is the promise of now and forever.
- As long as we live a life holding on to love for one another and to hold on to justice, the Word lives and Christmas continues day after day, year after year, and on into eternity.
Hymn 246 Joy to the World
Hymn 234 Silent Night