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Christmas Eve--Lens of Love

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Isaiah 9:2–7 ESV
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. 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, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Luke 2:1–14 ESV
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:1-11
Be sure to thank those that helped and those that participated—tell a few stories. Think of how actions for others is a profound way of telling the Christmas story

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Luke 2:1–14 ESV
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 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. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom he is pleased!”
Tell the story of the king who has come, who is come and will come again
Amidst the huddle and bustle of the holiday season, we have a few moments to consider once again the story and the event that changed everything.
In the words of Isaiah the prophet those who have lived in darkness, have seen a great light.
Until the time of the Christ child the creators creation, deemed good, had been living a marred existence, experiencing intimations of the imago dei, but clouded by evil, wicked, and sin.
Gods favored ones had experiencing the world not as it was intended, but incomplete. Impacted by the false ways of the human heart, injustice, oppression, and evil.
But the great light, in the form of a child would open up a world that had not been experienced. Creator God the father, had sent The son of God to enter into the sin, the evil, the wicked, the injustice, the oppression and stand firm--not returning evil for evil, but love in spite of evil. The law of the prince of peace, the light of the world and the king of kings would be Love. The sacrificial love of God would be made know and it would defeat the greatest of foes--death.
The light of Christ and the love of God would bring about hope and salvation to all who would receive.
Christmas Eve and tomorrows celebration is so much more than all of our wonderful acts of worship and generosity.
We celebrate the incarnation of God into the ultimate circumstances of life.
The God who has come and is come, yearns to unfold His life into every fiber and facet of our being.
Just as the Psalmist proclaims in
-we sing a new song of Life. The invitation is to all the earth. bless the name of the one who has come is come and will come again. Let us tell of his salvation. declaring his glory among all who will hear.
His marvelous works in the face of evil, wickedness, brokenness, oppression, and injustice.
The Lord of Lords will not be moved and His reign is forever. Let us not be intimidated by the power of sin and death—let us anchor to the bringer of light, the source of Love, and the giver of life (continuing further)
Psalm 96 ESV
Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The Lord reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
I am sure many of us could find ways to dwell on the places and spaces in our world that are not as they should be, that are sources of sorrow and grief, and cause us to question the justice and righteousness of God.
But this Christmas Eve we have a choice. To remain surrounded by the darkness of our world, to close our ears to the proclamation of the angelic choir, and harden our hearts like king Herod?
OR we can step into the light that has shone, is shining, and will continue to shine throughout the ages
We can open our hearts to the Love of Christ—letting the reality of God’s arrival into our lowly estate realize that He has come, He is come—He has considered us, He has heard our cries, He has stepped into the silence, and the earth is rejoicing. May the Love of Christ envelope our world and may we become active agents of making known the message of Christ’s love
In the words of Titus:
Titus 2:11–14 ESV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Titus
The light and love of Christ that was unfolded on the Christmas morn, we remember and we celebrate once again. Just as the angels implore you to fear not—to enter back into the patterns and disintegration of life outside of Christ—I ask you to consider how the life of the Christ child has come into your life, how He is come into life this moment, and how will come into your life today, tomorrow, and the days to come.
This Christmas, while you are recreating family traditions, forming news ones, opening presents, and enjoying a few days away from the toil of work, I hope you are able to walk deeper into the Life that God has made possible.
I invite you to stand with me as the final passage of our story is read this morning.
Luke 2:15–20 ESV
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. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Which will be followed by the lighting of the Christ Candle and the singing of our final song—Silent Night.
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