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Silent Night

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Some simple thoughts about the birth of the Messiah and the peace that it brings to us!

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OPEN WITH VIDEO, “Christmas According to Kids”

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I know that basically each year, at our Christmas Eve service, I read this passage from the Bible, that most people refer to as the Christmas story.
I don’t read it for the sake of tradition or liturgy, or because of the expectations of people.
Rather, the reason that I read this particular passage each Christmas Eve, is because I feel led to and because it is one of the most beautiful passages within the Holy Bible!
This morning’s service will be a little shorter than usual and the message will be something that I hope and pray that each and every one of us will take home and take to heart, both today and for this night!
And since it is Christmas Eve service, I found a cute little story to share with you guys.
PAINTING THE PORCH
There was a lady who was preparing her Christmas cookies. There was a knock at the door. She went to find a man, his clothes poor, obviously looking for some Christmas odd jobs. He asked her if there was anything he could do. She said, "Can you paint?"
There was a lady who was preparing her Christmas cookies. There was a knock at the door. She went to find a man, his clothes poor, obviously looking for some Christmas odd jobs. He asked her if there was anything he could do. She said, "Can you paint?"
"Yes," he said. "I’m a rather good painter."
"Yes," he said. "I’m a rather good painter."
"Well," she said, "there are two gallons of green paint there and a brush, and there’s a porch out back that needs to be painted. Please do a good job. I’ll pay you what the job is worth."
He said, "Fine. I’ll be done quickly."
She went back to her cookie making and didn’t think much more about it until there was a knock at the door. She went, and it was obvious that he had been painting: he had paint all over his clothes.
She said, "Did you finish the job?"
He said, "Yes."
She said, "Did you do a good job?"
He said, "Yes. But lady, there’s one thing I’d like to point out to you. That’s not a Porsche back there. That’s a Mercedes."

This morning, I wanted to read you a little history behind a very familiar Christmas song. This song that I mention, is noted to be the most of all of the Christmas hymns that we sing each year.

It has recorded in more languages and sung around the world more than any of the other Christmas songs and is hands down the most popular of all times!
Does anyone know what this song might be?
Right, Silent Night!
Which, I can personally attest to it being my favorite!
Allow me to briefly tell you the story behind how this famous Christmas tune came into existence.
The lyrics to Silent Night were written by Josef Mohr, a man whose name was unloved in his home town of Salzburg. Mohr was one of three illegitimate sons to Anna Schoiberin, while his father, Franz, was a mercenary soldier who eventually abandoned the family. To make matters worse, Josef’s godfather was the town executioner.
Perhaps due to his mother’s poverty, the curate of the local Catholic cathedral took Josef in as a foster child. Josef had a proclivity toward music, which was encouraged by the church, and he eventually decided himself to pursue the priesthood. He was ordained August 21, 1815, and was sent to Oberndorf, just north of Salzburg. He there met Franz Xaver Gruber, a local schoolteacher who would become organist at Old Saint Nicholas Church the following year.
Gruber came from equally humber origins, and himself took comfort in his music. The friendship of the two is what led to the creation of Silent Night.
Silent Night—or Stille Nacht in the original German—was created because Mohr needed a carol for worship. On Christmas Eve of 1818, Mohr visited Gruber with a poem he had written a few years earlier. Gruber quickly arranged the song to be played on a guitar with a choir because, the story goes, the church organ was broken. That evening at Midnight Mass, Gruber strapped on his guitar and led the congregation at St. Nicholas in the first rendition of Silent Night.
The original arrangement was a bit faster than the slow, reflective version of the song we know today. But the song was an immediate hit, later being sung by traveling tours and performed before King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Later in the 1800s, the hymn was translated into English and made its way to America by way of a book called Sunday School Hymnal, though with only three of the original six verses.
Today, Silent Night is perhaps the most famous Christmas carol in history. It has been translated into most languages, and the Bing Crosby version is the third-bestselling single in history.
Today, Silent Night is perhaps the most famous Christmas carol in history. It has been translated into most languages, and the Bing Crosby version is the third-bestselling single in history.
The reason that I am even telling you this story this morning, about the song Silent Night, is two-fold.
First, after doing some reading and research on the Biblical narrative of the birth of Jesus the Christ, I wanted to pose the thought that maybe it wasn’t such a silent night. Or at least not to the extent that many of us have thought it be based upon tradition!
And second, I wanted to take the thought of Silent Night, since it is such a beautiful thought, and link it up with one of the greatest gifts that Messiah brought to the earth at His birth and one that He personally mentioned that He would be giving to all of His faithful children!

So, I am going to share with you a few thoughts this morning that I have read about, over the last day or so. In doing so, I hope to give you some things to ponder about the birth of our Lord and Savior.

Now, please hear me out! I am not saying this morning that I am right and that the traditional way that we view His birth is wrong.
I am not saying that the thoughts that I am getting ready to share with you are the all inclusive, “thus says the Lord”, or anything like that.
I have read about some things and studied a few thoughts, based upon the story of His birth as we just read in the gospel of Luke and I find them interesting and on this day, of all days, I thought it relevant to share them with all of you.
You have probably heard me say before, that we are to study the word of God, not just read it.
The Psalmist wrote, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.”
All three of these verses share a common idea. You must get into the Word of God and STUDY it, to have true spiritual insight and to see the deeper things of His word.
YOU MUST meditate upon the Word.
This is why David wrote in ,
3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1–3 ESV
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
If you remember, I said that meditation is like a cow chewing its cud.
It chews it up some and swallows it and then later on, it brings it back up again and chews on it some more, getting more of the nutrients out of it.
It is the same way about God’s Word to us. You and I must read and STUDY the Bible, so as to truly be transformed by the renewing of our minds, as Paul says in .
All this said and done, I have looked into the Word and done a little background research about the Jewish culture and customs of the day and age of Yeshua and in doing so, I have found some thought provoking questions that I would like to leave with you to ponder today. So, I’ll do this before I make my overall point about the gift that came with Jesus and its tying into, Silent Night!
Does that sound alright with you guys?

OK, so let’s look back at the Biblical account of His birth in and I’ll show you the few thoughts that I have come across and been pondering myself.

The first point that I want to make, and it’s an assumption that I have been under since I was a small child and have been taught the story of Jesus’ birth, and it deals with the timing of His birth in correlation to when Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem.
So, what I am talking about is this; when do most of us think, or when have we been taught that Jesus was born, in regard to when Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem?
You know, like they travel and come rolling into the city and then what happens? RIGHT, we have been programmed to believe that He was born that night! RIGHT?!
Well, just look at ,
Luke 2:6 NLT
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
This is the NLT rendering of the verse. The KJV actually says it this way, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.”
This use of the word, “days”, is plural and it means exactly that; it could have been literally days, weeks, or a month, before Mary actually gave birth to Yeshua!
Just as the NLT says, “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.”
This does not say, “And when they arrived in Bethlehem, the time came for the baby to be born”, but rather, it says, “while they were there”, meaning that they had already been in the city for days, or more and then the time came for Jesus to be born!
So, you may say, “So what”, what does it matter, if He was born that same night or days later?
In all honesty, it doesn’t matter. What does matter and my point for sharing this and a few other thoughts, is that we begin to actually read and study the Word for ourselves and look to see what it actually says, verses what people have always told us! AMEN?!
OK, so the next, thought that I will give you to ponder, and one that actually ties in with another thought, is that of the location of the birth place.
Traditionally, where do we picture or where do we see the birth of Jesus being depicted at? Usually within an animal stable, right? Or maybe within a cave that has animals being used as a stable, something along those lines.
How many of you set out, or use a nativity scene for Christmas? Is it not usually depicting the stable scene?
Why is that? Well, due in part to two key verses. and also ,
Luke 2:7 ESV
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Luke 2:12 NLT
And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:12 ESV
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:7 ESV
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Now, the stable is usually depicted as the birth place because of the mentioning of a “manger” (Greek: phatnē - feed box, hay manger) along with the thought that Joseph could acquire no other accommodations for his wife (his betrothed).
As seen in verse 7, “because there was no place for them in the inn.”
This part is really important right here, as it sets the entire stage for the location of the birth of the Messiah!
The word that Luke uses here for “inn”, is the Greek word, “katalyma” (kat-ahl-immah), and it means, an inn (a traveler's lodge), but also a GUEST ROOM!
Guest room would have been more in line with what he was trying to impart, by virtue of another use of the same Greek word elsewhere.
Luke uses this same word in as does Mark in his gospel in ,
Luke 22:11 ESV
and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
Mark 14:14 ESV
and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
Jesus was not sending the disciples to an inn to find a place to partake of the Passover for the Last Supper; rather He was sending them to an individual's personal house, as is noted in the verse, “the master/owner of the HOUSE”.
In , in the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke mentions the word “inn”, but this time, he uses the actual word, “pandokeion”, and it only means ONE thing; an inn (a public house for reception of strangers).
In fact this is the only time we see this word used. It has no other understanding.
EXPLAIN ABOUT JOSEPH BEING FROM THE “HOUSE OF DAVID” AND THEIR LIKELIHOOD OF HAVING LODGING (or going to Zechariah and Elizabeth’s house) AND ALSO OF THE JEWISH CUSTOM OF THE WOMEN ATTENDING TO THE DELIVERING MOTHER AND THIS AFFECTING THE SHEPHERD’S FIND OF THE LORD AND OF HOW IT WAS NOT A “SILENT NIGHT”!

Now, after all of that goodness for you to ponder over, let me come back to Silent Night.

This time of year, statistics will show that that there are many people, all over the nation, who suffer from increased depression, anxiety, anger, rejection, fear, etc.!
There are many reason for this, such as broken homes/divorces/ split ups. Loss of jobs/unemployment feeding into expectations for Christmas gifts and the like! Deaths that leave voids and the painful memories of Christmases gone bye!
All of this intensified, possibly by alcohol and drug usage that just deepens the depression and hurts!
Along with all of this, then you have the barrage of things that are constantly being put before our eyes in the world that deal with violence at every level, anger rage, dysfunction and loss of mass proportions!
All of this put together, can lead to or just intensify the S/S of things ( the depression, anxiety, anger, rejection, fear), that I just mentioned that many people are suffering right now in this nation, this state, this county, this city and even in this church!
All of the natural things that we see and hear going on all around us, serve to produce or intensify multiple fears, that the enemy uses to distract people from the TRUTH of what this night SHOULD remind us of!
That TRUTH is that the Son of the Living God was born on this earth some 2,000 years ago, as we celebrate His birth this night and all day tomorrow!
And with the birth of Jesus the Christ, came one of the most amazing gifts that could ever be given!
A gift that was told centuries before His birth that He would bring and that He Himself, said that He would give to us!
, “I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring PEACE to the nations.”
Zechariah 9:10 NLT
I will remove the battle chariots from Israel and the warhorses from Jerusalem. I will destroy all the weapons used in battle, and your king will bring peace to the nations. His realm will stretch from sea to sea and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.
, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of PEACE. Of the increase of his government and of PEACE there will be no end, ”
, “PEACE I leave with you; my PEACE I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
, “PEACE I leave with you; my PEACE I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have PEACE.”
And of course at the very announcement on the night of Yeshua’s birth the angels sang out, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth PEACE among those with whom he is pleased!”
It is the gift of PEACE that we should ponder upon tonight and thank our great and merciful God for, as He instituted this PEACE through the birth of His beloved Son, Jesus!
This PEACE is in place to ALL who know Him as there one true Lord and Savior!
However, there are still millions who are overcome and overwhelmed by everything that they see and hear going on in the world all around them!
And because they are so caught up in all of this, they do not truly receive and/or possess the PEACE of the Lord within their hearts!
SHOW VIDEO SILENT NIGHT!

On December 24, 1914, during the cold and miserable conflict of WW1 in Europe, something amazing happened. In the middle of the night, reports were told by the English soldiers that they began to hear a song being sung from across no-man’s land within the German trenches. It was a song that they did not know the words to at first, as it was being sung in German, yet they recognised the tune. The Germans were singing out loud, “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night). At this, the English began to sing out a familiar Christmas carols back to the Germans. At daybreak, Christmas Day morning, the English witnessed the impossible taking place. German soldiers were climbing out of their trenches and making their way across no-man’s land, amidst the sea of frozen dead bodies and saying, in English, “Merry Christmas”. At this, the English responded in like fashion and climbed out and met them on the battlefield. Throughout the day, they shook hands, exchanged gifts of cigarettes and plum puddings and swapped helmets, they sang carols together and history even says that a soccer match broke out between the two sides with a makeshift soccer ball. At the close of the day, both sides said their goodbyes, crawled back into their respective trenches and on the next day, war resumed! BUT, the PEACE that could only come from that Silent Night had come!

And from the night that angels announced its presence, it has never ceased! The PEACE of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is just as much with us this day and will be on this night, as it was when He brought it into the world, 2,000 years ago!
The Christmas story in Luke’s gospel, winds down with this passage, “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
You see, this to me, was the truth of that Silent Night, the holy night!
Mary, the now young miraculous virgin mother, sat in the still of the night, after everyone had quietened down and returned to their homes and she held her new baby and looked upon His PEACEFUL face and pondered what had just taken place!
The evening of amazing events, closed with the beauty of God’s chosen one, holding His son in stillness and the silence of night and the PEACE of her heart.
And Mary had much to ponder as she held THE SON OF GOD in her arms and looked upon His little face with no clue as to what the future held for Him and many questions as to what lie ahead for her new family, and yet there was a supernatural PEACE that came that one SILENT NIGHT!
This is what I want for each of you and your families tonight. As you adjourn home this evening, whether to a home filled with family and friends, or to a home where you live alone, I wish the same thing upon the place that you call home! I hope and pray that each one of you can stop and tune out the world around you and allow the PEACE of the Christ to fill your home with its glorious presence! And may your home, on this Christmas Eve, 2017, truly experience a Silent Night!
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