Christmas Heavenly peace
Welcome and announcements
Doxology Hymn 323: “Into your presence we come” (repeat)
Call to worship and Greeting
Hymn no 166: “Come O long expected Jesus”
Prayer of adoration and Confession of sins
Declaration of pardoning
Hymn no 397: “Out of my bondage, sorrow and night” (verse 1, 2)
Sunday School Item
Sunday School presentation
Hymn no 164: “While shepherds watched their flocks by night”
Offering and Dedication
While the Offering is taken up, all (remaining seated) sing) Hymn no 169: “”Who is He in yonder stall?” (verse 1, 2, 6, 7, 8)
Prayer of Intercession
Old Testament: Isa 9:1-7
New Testament: Luke 2:1-14
Sermon “Heavenly Peace”
Because all heaven and earth are God's creation, and because man is created in God's image, God is the great and inescapable fact; the knowledge of God is inescapable knowledge. When men in unrighteousness or injustice suppress or deny that knowledge, they cannot evade the necessity of God, and so they declare or create new gods in their image, or in terms of their imagination (Rom. 1:18-25). The most powerful, and most deadly, of these new or false gods has, through the centuries, been the state. The state, as a false god, claims total jurisdiction, and it declares itself sovereign or god: it is, in terms of ancient paganism, Hegel, and modern political thought, god walking on earth. Men, having denied the true God, cannot escape having a god, and the modem state is the great Baal (or Lord) of modern man. The cry of modem man is a political cry, "0 Baal, hear us" and save us (I Kings 18:26). Here is idolatry, and too long the church has been silent in the face of it, or has urged its people to submit to Baal in the name of Jesus Christ: to its idolatry, it has added blasphemy.
The age-long mirage of salvation through political power and organization was reflected in the 1st century in this imperial cult. The myth of a God-King who was the saviour and benefactor of his people appears widely in various forms in this ancient world particularly in the orient. In Rome the impetus for the official cult stems from the career of Augustus who after Actium in 31 bc established the Pax Romana, the golden age of peace after decades of bloodshed. He was commonly addressed as soter, ‘Saviour of the world’, and through his relationship to Julius Caesar, ‘the Son of God’.
Title: It passed to his successors as a title of office rather than a name, and was hence translated into Greek (sebastos, ‘His Reverence’, Acts 25:21, 25: rsv ‘the emperor’) when referring to them, though transliterated when referring to him (Lk. 2:1).
Augustus embodied the Roman ideal: personal merit should win dignity and power. But his success put an end to competition, and left him with the burden of universal responsibility. His 57 years of rule (43 bc to ad 14) saw the foundation of a new era of peace under the *Roman empire.
Money In Mt. 22:20 (Mk. 12:16; Lk. 20:24) we read about the head of the emperor and accompanying inscription on the face of a silver denarius. The denarius then in circulation bore the eikon of the head of Tiberius and the epigraphe ti. caesar divine aug. f. augustus (Tiberius Caesar Augustus, son of the divine Augustus’)
Followers: Christiani, by an Antiochene joke, was modelled on Augustiani, the organized brigade of chanting devotees who led the public adulation of Nero Augustus; both the enthusiasm of the believers and the ludicrous homage of the imperial cheer-leaders being satirized by the implicit comparison with each other. But the name ‘Christian’ may well be older than the institution of the Augustiani.
The reforms of Augustus as well as his long life contributed to the idea that he was something more than human -- he was certainly a hero, the Romans thought, perhaps even a god. He was consul, tribune, chief priest of the civic religion and the public censor. He ruled by personal prestige: he was princeps (first citizen among equals) and pater patriae (father of the country). He was the supreme ruler, the king, the emperor and his authority (auctoritas) was absolute.
provided a material and political base of cultural achievement that rivaled the Greeks under Pericles. This is the age of the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. But the Augustan reforms were not limited to political, economic and social issues alone. They also envisioned a fundamental change in Roman culture itself. Augustus tried to turn Rome into a world capital and taught the Romans to identify their destiny with the destiny of all mankind. They were the chosen people who would bring peace and stability to a violent and changing world.
The Romans looked forward to a world composed of the most diverse elements and people. The Empire would be synonymous with the world.
To further the image that peace had returned to Rome, Augustus began building and rebuilding Rome. This public works program gave citizens jobs and helped to increase Augustus' popularity among the people of Rome. Since access to the provinces was essential for control, he made sure that the roads were kept in repair, and in some cases built new roads. He replaced the facades of many temples and state buildings with marble, completed many buildings that had been started by Caesar, and built many new buildings himself. Among these was the Forum of Augustus, including the temple of Mars Ultor. It was said that Augustus felt his city should tower over the rest of the world. This was evident in many of his public buildings.
Augustus put forth a series of moral legislation that was designed to improve the morals and restore republican virtue. To the public Augustus appeared very moral and upstanding, but in reality, he was anything but. In the guise of finding out secrets from enemies, he would often have sex with women who were related to these "enemies.”.
Under the rule of Augustus, many facets of the government ran very smoothly, thus indicating that Rome was at peace. War was a distant thing, confined only to the most rugged frontiers. Thanks to the huge amounts of wealth from Egypt that were kept by Augustus after the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, Augustus was able to throw elaborate feasts, festivals and celebrations for the people of Rome, to further the notion that peace had well and truly been achieved.
The Pax Romana , or Roman Peace has been said to be almost a "miracle." He set up a government that was able to maintain a peace for many centuries. That had not yet been done in human history. The significance of this peace was that through the cunning actions of one man, who took steps to ensure his own power would remain, a system of imperialism was put forth that lasted for centuries.
For the Greeks eiréne primarily denotes a state, not a relationship or attitude. It is the opposite of pólemos (“war”). It is linked with treaties of peace or the conclusion of peace. It is also the opposite of disturbance. In a negative sense, it may denote a peaceful attitude, i.e., the absence of hostile feelings. In the age of Augustus it carries echoes of redemption, but also implies in everyday reality the legal security of the pax Romana.
Gloria in excelsis.
Angelic proclamation of the good news. The previous angelic proclamations were directed particularly to the persons to whom the visions came. The joy of this message is for all the people of God; the shepherds are only representative of the larger group who anticipate and long for the deliverance Messiah brings. The benediction of praise expresses not merely the hope for the future but the reality that has become actual in Messiah’s birth: To God in the highest, glory!
To his people on earth, peace!
‘Men of God’s good will’ is the better-attested reading and is parallel to ‘the people’ in v. 10. It refers to those upon whom God’s redemptive mercy has been bestowed and with whom he is well pleased (cf. Lk. 3:22). The peace which the angels announce is not the external and transient pax Romana; it is the peace which heals the estrangement between sinful men and a holy God (cf. Is. 9:6f.; Rom. 10:15).