We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Read more
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the True Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Some thoughts from last Sunday’s sermon from Taylor Ishii, our church’s youth pastor.
“God will stop at nothing to be with us.”
Also, a quote (in my paraphrase) he gave from Stan Hauerwas: “What shouldn’t stun us is that Mary is a virgin but that God won’t abandon us.”
May we be reminded of the stunning truth of this season: He is God with us.
O behold, the mystery now unfolds
See the star shine on the virgin foretold
Angels sing and light up the sky
Hope rings out in a newborn’s cry
Swing wide, you ancient gates
For Christ is born today!
Prepare Him room
Prepare Him room
Let the King of glory enter in
God with us, the promise has come to be
This, the one the prophets were longing to see
In the darkness a blazing light
To the hungry the words of life
His kingdom now is near
For those with ears to hear
Oh, our hearts, as busy as Bethlehem
Hear Him knock, don’t say there’s no room in the inn
Through the cradle, cross, and grave
See the love of God displayed
Now He’s risen and He reigns
Praise the Name above all names!
Music and words by Rebecca Elliott and Dave Fournier. © 2014 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).
Listen to this wonderful song HERE.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this. (Isa. 9:6-7)
He has come to bring peace on earth. He has come to restore. He has come… because he is God with us. Read more
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)
I sit in the early morning doing something brand new: holding my new grandson. In the quiet I ask for the goodness of God to be POURED into his life. His name is strong: JUDAH (God be praised). As I sit and look at this beautiful boy I ask for the name of the Lord to be strong in him, through his life, through the lives of his parents.
In this early morning on this special day I am “out of pocket” a bit as pastor. I love being at my church on Christmas Eve and getting ready to lead a Christmas Eve service. This year I am in Alabama and we have all our kids here. Three sons, two wives, and one adorable grandson. (Have I mentioned I have a new grandson yet?)
This Christmas Eve I have my immediate family here. Though my wife and I are far from our parents, we are “being parents” this year having our core family together in a way we may struggle to get again. This Christmas Eve is so deeply meaningful in my life as I think of the charge I have as a parent and now a grandparent. It is a time to reflect on blessing and then TO BLESS.
It is a time to remember the timeless story… and then impart spiritual blessing into my family so they can live out the timeless story in their lives.
I have learned over the years to live in the moment gifted to me. I can choose to be in a moment and say, “Well, if this person was here it would be perfect,” or, “Well, if this moment were happening this other location it would be perfect,” etc. We can miss precious moments if we play the “well, but…” scenario in our minds constantly.
In this moment, I have a beautiful family all together and it is a gift. Last night I was tired from the trip so I was sittting off to the side resting and listening to the rest of the family get into an incredily deep discussion about race and culture. It was a powerful moment for me. I was filled with gratitude. They were thinking. They were discussing. They were finding their way. And through it all came this heart for God that drives them to do things better in this world.
These are precious moments gifted to me. And on this Christmas Eve morning… I give thanks. And I worship Christ the King.
Advent creates longing. The Scripture reading all season reflects on longing.
I love the celebration of Christmas, but I also love the stirring this season’s readings create in my heart.
A few weeks ago I walked into a colleague’s office and started with, “I’ve heard a rumor…”
His ears perked up, but he was cautious because he is not a man who wants to hang around a rumor mill.
I finishes: “that Jesus is coming again.”
He smiled and relaxed.
I then left him with a quote I heard from a man who has now experienced the fullness of what he said a few years ago: “I’m homesick for a place I’ve never been.”
Advent makes me homesick. I long for the fullness of the presence of Christ. He has come once. He will come again… and I have that deep longing. I want to go home.
The great invitation is given today:
12 “Look! I’m coming soon. My reward is with me, to repay all people as their actions deserve. 13 I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 14 Favored are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right of access to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs, the drug users and spell-casters, those who commit sexual immorality, the murderers, the idolaters, and all who love and practice deception.
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to bear witness to all of you about these things for the churches. I’m the root and descendant of David, the bright morning star. 17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who is thirsty come! Let the one who wishes receive life-giving water as a gift.” (Rev. 22:12-17)
Let us long for that day.
Celebrate the season. Long for his coming again.
It is the tension we need in our lives in these holy days.