Isaiah 61: 10-62: 3; Galatians 4: 4-7; Luke 2: 22-40
December 31, 2017
A few words about today's service. We are singing mostly Christmas carols, but you will note one hymn that isn't associated with Christmas. It is at the end of the Isaiah reading and you may notice why if you pay close attention to the reading and the verse we sing.
Each carol has been selected to match or to expand the meanings of the reading while instructing us how we can worship. For instance, before the Isaiah reading, we sing a carol that speaks to the prophets who foresaw the coming Messiah. We will sing of Isaiah's prophecy of a virgin bearing a son ...our savior.
Isaiah writes of us being a royal diadem in the hand of God. A diadem is a crown signifying God's greatness and God's victory. We sing of the royal diadem with which Christ is crowned.
Galatians speaks to our hopelessness under the Law but the victory we have in Christ who enables us to become children of God. And so we sing of Christ's saving birth.
The rest of the carols come during the sermon and I will speak of them then.
We prepare to worship as we listen to this morning's introit
Luke 2: 22-40
22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.
Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was being said about Jesus. They didn't understand the whole Messiah being born in a manger...and how would they parent the Son of God? Lots of questions. The question Simeon answered is that Jesus would be for all people, Jew and Gentile alike. Like Simeon, we praise God. What Child is This 53
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Another recognition of the baby as the redeemer. She shared the good news with all would listen. We are tasked with sharing the good news that God sent us salvation in the form of a baby.
Go Tell it on the Mountain 29 PH
39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Our hymn calls us to come to Bethlehem to behold the King of angels. But the chorus calls us to adore Christ, the Lord. And as we do, we remember that the baby in the manger grew to be our redeemer on the cross; the resurrected Lord who has defeated the power of sin and death. Let us all adore Christ, the Lord!
O Come All Ye Faithful 41 PH