December 27, 2015

December 27, 2015 - Luke 2:40


Theme: The Greatest Wonder of the World

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how untraceable are His ways!

It’s been said that there are Seven Wonders of the World which are the greatest architectural achievements of mankind. The original seven wonders were determined by the historian, Herodotus, around 480 AD. However, this list of wonders is now deemed “ancient” since greater ones have been built in the modern age and since some of these original wonders are lost and gone. A few familiar ones of this ancient classification include: The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Perhaps you’ve seen a picture of these wonders or an artist’s rendering of them, they are indeed magnificent.

In 2001, an updated list of seven wonders was formulated. The list includes: the Great Wall of China, the Coliseum of Rome, and the Taj Mahal in India. I’ve actually seen one of the wonders on this list in person – the Mayan temple, Chichen Itza in the Yucatan peninsula. Without a doubt, this ancient temple, dated at around 600 AD, is a great architectural wonder. The Mayans were masters of math, science and astronomy and it showed in this building. The steps of the temple were planned out to align with the days of the year and its position with the sun was designed cast a beam of light down from the top of the temple in a specific direction at a very specific time of year, the spring equinox. I witnessed this occurrence and it was indeed amazing.

But perhaps just as fascinating as the building itself, are the crowds of people who flock to see it every day. And this doesn’t just include tourists nowadays. This temple of the Mayans was obviously a center of worship, and it is astounding to think of all the many people throughout the ages who have clamored to it foundations to worship. Hundreds of thousands, possible even millions of Mayan people stood in spiritual wonder on this ground, where their serpent god supposedly existed. For them this was not just an experience of amazement, it was literally religious. Yet, for century after century, for generation after generation, this temple still remained just an assembly of bricks of mortar. It was fashioned and formed in an amazing way, in a way that has stood the test of time so far, but in the end it is nothing more than just a man-made creation for a man-made god. 

It’s sad that so many people got caught up in the wonder of this building and not in things of lasting substance of the true God. Even when I visited, tourists and natives alike deemed it a ‘sacred’ place. In their minds there surely had to be some type of god there, especially in such a magnificent setting. But, eventually, like many before it, even this temple will lose the fight with time and succumb to the elements.

Yet, in the most unlikely of places and through the most unlikely of people, God revealed the greatest wonder the world would ever see, His own Son, the eternal Son of God, made flesh like one of us. Every day, people have opportunity to stand in awe and amazement at this wonder, yet they focus instead on the man-made things of the world. Let us consider and meditate upon this wonder today, as found in one single verse from Luke 2, verse 40, speaking about Jesus: And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him.

This simple passage from Luke is often overlooked, probably because it comes at the end of the very familiar Christmas account. Yet, let us not forget how important its thoughts are, or how many years it spans. In reality, never before has so much been covered in such a little sentence. This verse stretches from Christ’s infancy, through His adolescence, and even into His adulthood and public ministry. Perhaps it’s perplexing that the Bible gives so little information about Jesus’ childhood. Shortly after this verse Luke tells us about Jesus as a 12 year old in the temple. But other than that, we have nothing until the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry at around age 30. God doesn’t give us much information about this time because it’s not what is most important. He doesn’t want anything to overshadow or get in the way of the most important parts of His Son’s life –His ministry, His death, and His resurrection.

Even though we’re not given many details about Jesus’ childhood in the Bible, it hasn’t stopped people from speculating about what it was like. The mystery of the incarnation is such an amazing wonder that people try to fathom how it could be possibly be. How could Jesus be the King of Heaven and Earth and yet rely on His parents for food and shelter? How could Jesus live in the world as a human and yet never have one evil thought or action? How could Jesus be perfect and holy in every way and still have moments of hunger, sorrow, and fatigue? These thoughts create paradoxes in our mind, and sadly, many try to offer man-made answers.

If you look at the beginning of the Christian Church, some of the earliest false teachings centered on who Jesus was. Some speculated that Jesus was neither man nor God, but some sort of a demi-god or lesser god. Others said that Jesus was indeed God but not man, or still others reversed it and said that He was man and not God. Many hours and resources were spent by the first Christians when considering the person of Jesus. If you look at the history of the church, councils convened, essays were written, and discussions ensued all concerning the wonder of this miracle – that Jesus could be true Man and true God. And even today the question still persists and is still debated by many.

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to stumble across a video about a pastor helping a young man who had been hospitalized. In the interview the pastor likened the man’s situation to Jesus’ life. The man from the video had brought health complications upon his life through drugs and crime. The pastor excused these actions by saying the young man simply needed to get those bad things out of his system, as all people do when they’re young. He compared it to many of the thing teenagers do, which at times are reckless and immature. The pastor even said that Jesus needed time to learn, that even as a teenager He did irresponsible and immature things; and this is why the Bible doesn’t say anything about Christ’s life from age 12 to age 30. According to this pastor, Jesus was just getting the sinful lifestyle out of His system.

What a tragedy for anyone, let alone a Christian pastor, to be promoting such a false teaching. The Bible tells us that to call Jesus imperfect is blasphemy, a sin against God Himself since Jesus is God. Do people just not care about what God says anymore? How can so many ignore the clear and simple testimony of the Bible in so many areas? And how can this be happening so often in Christian churches? Well, it’s similar to my experience at that Mayan temple. I enjoyed seeing it, it was fascinating and a true feat, but not spiritual, not on the level or worship. Sadly, too many today believe the same about Jesus. They’re intrigued and amazing at the wonder of His life and what He did, but not to the point of worship and not to point of obedience. And just like that, the wonder of our Savior becomes nothing more than a man-made fascination, only something to view as a tourist and speculate about, instead of something to cherish by faith in the heart.            

But in one simple verse, Luke tells us why Jesus is the Greatest Wonder of the World. For in this verse we see both His humanity and His deity. Jesus is described as one who grew in strength and wisdom, just as all children do. But most importantly, He is one upon whom God’s grace rests. When we think of God’s grace we think of it in terms why we need it. We need the grace of God because we have sin, because without His grace, we have no forgiveness. Why did Jesus have God’s grace? Why does the Spirit tell that He had it, even when He was growing as a child? Did Jesus need like we do? Absolutely not, for He was without sin. Jesus had His Father’s grace because He was One with His Father, Jesus was perfect in obedience to God’s will and therefore earned His Father’s favor.

We clearly see the humanity of Jesus in this verse because we know what it’s like to grow and learn as a child, for we have all have done it, and many of us have seen our children do it. But it’s harder to see the deity of Jesus in this verse, because it’s unfamiliar to us. We haven’t earned and upheld the love of God on our own like Jesus did. For many of us, we first saw God’s grace as little children, brought to baptism by our parents. Therefore many of us have grown in God’s favor as well, but only because of the free gift of faith. The wonder of the incarnation is that even though Jesus was like us in every way, as a human who experienced problems and grew; He was at the same time the complete opposite of us. He was perfect and just, He was God’s Son, and He deserved the status of having His Father’s grace.

But at this point, we don’t simply focus only on who Jesus was, but also what He did. For it’s what He did that takes our differences away and unites us with Jesus. It’s what He did on the cross that allows us to say that God’s grace rests upon us as well. That Jesus was both one who grew and learned and also one who had God’s grace meant that He was the perfect fit as our Savior. The Savior needed to be both man and God. The Savior needed to be one, who as described in the Old Testament Passover, would be both unblemished and without spot, but also a sacrifice that would die. That God made it possible to send His Son to perfectly to fit these two requirements is the Greatest Wonder of the World. A wonder not just to stand in awe of but one to respect and worship in humility.

In the same breath, Luke tells us that Jesus applies to us in every way and at the same time is different than us in every way. What an amazing verse! What a tremendous truth that is proclaimed in such few words! This is the person of your Savior, true Man and true God, and only Jesus fits it. Because He is both one who grew, lived and learned like you and because He is the only one who earned the title of having His Father’s love, you have the hope of blessings that the Spirit promises in 1 Peter 1:13-14: that you may rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children.

Jesus has been revealed. God has come as man. But Jesus also has grace in abundance, grace that is His own, that He alone deserves, but that He also shares freely with you, even though you don’t deserve it. Stand in wonder, Stand in awe, witness the fascination of the greatest wonder of the world. But also kneel in humility, bow in worship, and live in obedience. Amen.

The Peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Amen. 

Christmas Day Service


Singing the praises of God has always been an important part of the Christian faith. This tradition goes back even to the days of the Old Testament. Moses, Miriam, David, and Solomon all sang songs that are recorded for us today. The book of Psalms was written in Hebrew poetry and the Israelites set many of its words to tune. God speaks with favor when it comes to worshipping Him with songs.

1 Chronicles 16:23-24 tells us to “Sing to the LORD, all the earth; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.

The book of Psalms contains the phrase, “Sing to the Lord” 27 times.

Paul instructed the Colossians to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).”

Even in the final moment that Jesus was with his 12 disciples, on Maundy Thursday, we’re told that they sang a hymn together as they concluded receiving the Lord’s Supper.

This strong tradition of singing to God continues to this day with great strength in the Lutheran church. Of all the Christian denominations, Lutherans are most well-known for their rich musical heritage. An important development that sprang forth from the Reformation was an explosion of hymn composition. Today, we are blessed to have well-written and singable hymns for all times of the church year. We could all honestly admit that without this tradition of hymn singing, our faith simply would not be the same.

Hymn 76 “A Great and Mighty Wonder”
Perhaps the greatest of all seasons in our hymnal is upon us today. The birth of our Savior stands right next to Easter Sunday as the most joyous of times to express our belief of God in song. In fact, the largest section of hymns in our hymnal is the Christmas section, with 37 total. Today, let us delve into some of our well-known Christmas songs of praise. God-willing we will gain a greater respect and understanding of the reasons they were written and the value they hold for us today.

As we look at each hymn, I encourage you to open your hymnals to it since we will be discussing the doctrinal content that it teaches. The first hymn we start with is also the first Christmas hymn listed, number 76, “A Great and Mighty Wonder.” This is one the oldest known hymns in the Christian Church, yet it isn’t even the oldest Christmas hymn in our hymnal.

This hymn was so ancient that is was originally written in Greek, not Latin, German, or English. You’ll notice the original title listed in your hymnal is in the Greek language. It’s pronounced, mega kai paradoxe thauma. The literal translation of this title is, “A great and strange wonder.” You can see how the translator expressed it well. The Greek word, paradoxe, translated as “strange” or “amazing,” is where our English word, paradox, comes from. As we contemplate the birth of God’s Son into the world, the thought of a paradox is indeed fitting; for it far transcends anything that humans can imagine.

The author, St. Germanus, who was bishop in Asia Minor, built on this thought well as he describes the doctrines of the virgin birth and the dual nature of Christ in verses 1 and 2. The word, “cherubim” in verse 2 is an English pronunciation for the Hebrew word for angels. You may recall that the Ark of the Covenant had two golden cherubim on its cover. The same idea of power is conveyed in the Christmas story, as we picture the almighty hosts of the Father proclaiming the arrival of His Son, the long-expected Messiah.

The angels’ original song of praise, recorded in Luke 2:14, ties the hymn together and keeps its great and mighty wonders focused on Christmas night. As many Christian hymns do, so this hymn directs the believer to remember the future coming of this same Savior. In all our thoughts and praises, we do well to echo this same approach; for it helps us remember the very reason Jesus came.

85 “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come”

Our next hymn of focus is 85, “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.” This hymn is the second longest in the Christmas section and it is the most well-known Christmas hymn written by Martin Luther. Historians note that Luther really enjoyed celebrating Christmas and he wrote this particular hymn for his children in 1534. The way in which Luther designed this hymn was unique. He meant for it to read as if the first seven verses were sung to the hearers by an angel. They are written as God’s blessed tidings delivered to His people. Verse 8 marks a transition from the angel’s proclamation to the peoples’ response of praise. When reading and singing you’ll notice this change in style and it serves as a nice feature of the hymn.

In true Luther fashion, there is no shortage of rich Gospel themes through this hymn. Already in verse 3 he makes it clear that the mission of this child was about making payment for sins upon the cross. Luther goes on in verses 5 and 6 to describe the comforting scenes of the birth in Bethlehem. He makes mention of the swaddling cloths, the infant, the manger, and the shepherds.

The final phrase of verse 11 is hard to follow in our English translation. It reads, “As ‘twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.” “’Twere” is an old English contraction of the words “it were.” What Luther meant to convey in this verse was that although the Christ-child’s immediate surroundings were the humblest of nature, hay and straw instead of silk and velvet, they didn’t diminish His power. The dominion of heaven was still Christ’s all along, throughout the entire course of his earthly journey. He simply chose to set it aside for you and me. Even though Jesus had a throne in heaven, this lowly manger now was his on earth.  

The hymn ends with some very beautiful depictions of what the Christmas story means to each individual soul. Luther looks into each of our hearts as we sing, “Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child, Make Thee a bed soft, undefiled, Within my heart that it may be, a quiet chamber kept for Thee.” As Luther proves here, good hymnody does not need to be void of feeling, emotions, or personality. One of the blessings of rich music is that it does touch the heart. When you add the truths of Scripture to this effect, the hymns become cherished for life and quite powerful to the Christian. We must keep this in mind. Not all subjective and personal thoughts are wrong. The importance is that they accurately convey Christ.

90 Come Your Hearts and Voices Raising

The next song of praise we look at is hymn 90, “Come Your Hearts and Voices Raising.” This hymn was written by Paul Gerhardt, a Lutheran pastor in Germany in the 1600s. Gerhardt is also responsible for 20 other hymns in the Lutheran Hymnal, including other well loved ones such as: “A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth” and “Awake My Heart With Gladness.” Gerhardt has often been called Germany’s greatest hymn writer, even over Luther. In all, he wrote 123 hymns.

Gerhardt drew upon his life experiences in his hymn writing. He was one who truly knew and felt the comfort of the Gospel in the midst of hardships. From early on, Gerhardt was confronted with the pain of living in a sinful world. As a young child, he grew up in the suffering of the 30 years’ war. After the war subsided, Gerhardt was tested in the fires of holding to His biblical confession. At this point in history, Lutheran pastors were coerced to sign a confessional statement with Reformed churches, stating that there were no longer differences between them, at least not any that mattered before God. It was a complete compromise of the Lutheran faith. Gerhardt refused and was deposed from his office as pastor at the Church of St. Nicholas in Berlin.

Shortly before these proceedings Gerhardt had lost three of his five of his children to illness. During the deposition a fourth child died and his wife became seriously ill. The fact that Gerhardt could write this hymn in the midst of such trials is an amazing testament to the strength of his faith, but even more to the power and love of God. He was truly one whose mind was set on things above, not on this earth only. A year after Gerhardt wrote this hymn, his wife, too, passed away on Easter, leaving only a six-year old son left with him. Gerhardt would continue preaching and composing God’s word in song for 8 more years, when God called him to heaven.      

One cannot say that Paul Gerhardt didn’t understand what it was like to suffer. And yet, his hymns contain no thought of complaint or the idea that he was ever mistreated by God. We see the source of Gerhardt’s peace immediately in this hymn as he gets to the full Gospel message. It is to this promise that Christians are to “cast their cares” and turn “from earth’s woes to heavenly joy” as he writes in verses 1-2.

Gerhardt makes reference to Balaam’s prophecy from Numbers 24 in verse 5, as he mentions Jacob’s star. God promised victory through His Son as it is written: “A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.” We also see a clear example of the very teaching that Gerhardt held onto despite being persecuted – salvation by faith alone. From verse 7, “Oh, the joy beyond expressing, when by faith we grasp this blessing…” It is truly only by faith that we can understand and hold onto the gifts of God’s grace which He showers upon us through the birth of His Son. There is nothing on this earth, whether war, disease, death, ill-treatment, or poverty, all things Paul Gerhardt endured, that can rob us of God’s free love in Jesus. This is why we come with uplifted hearts and voices on every opportunity we have to hear and share God’s Word.

Hymn 103 “To Shepherd’s As They Watched by Night”

We come to another Christmas hymn by Martin Luther, “To Shepherd’s As They Watched by Night,” number 103 in the hymnal. Luther wrote this hymn for use around Christmas by those who thought “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” was too long. Apparently, even back then people only had so much of a tolerance for singing in the worship service.

But much more important than length, was what Luther conveyed through this hymn. All of the hymns in our hymnal have Scripture references attached to them. Most of these references, however, were not given by the authors. The connection to Bible references was made later, most of the time just by guessing what the author may have based his thoughts on. But in the case of this hymn, we know indeed that Luther based it on Luke 2:10-11, as you see near the title.

Those verses state the following: Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” These words are the angel’s famous proclamation to the shepherds. Each verse of the hymns builds on the imagery and thoughts that the shepherds experienced.

They were right outside Bethlehem as Luther mentions in verse 2 and just as the prophet Micah foretold. The rest of the hymn focuses on something that described the shepherds even more than the location of their flocks. What Luther relates is really how the humble a sinner feels at the prospect of God entering his life. The shepherds certainly would have felt this way, as they were lowly commoners. They felt unworthy; they quite possibly were unsure of how to present themselves before their Maker and Redeemer, even though He was a tiny baby.

Shouldn’t we feel the same way when we approach God in our lives? If we aren’t struck in our hearts with a feeling of humbleness we should really ask ourselves what’s wrong. The final four verses of this hymn remind us that we have nothing to fear when we face God, whether that be daily in His Word or on the Final Day. Sin and death can do no harm. Satan and hell can rage and fight all they want. Temptations may abound but the Christian cannot fail. Because the birth of Jesus represents the great length of God’s desire to save mankind. He is not a God who is distant or far from our pleas for help. He is a God who humbled Himself to our level. He did that because He cares for you.

The shepherds were inadequate to receive their Savior, but that was the entire point. God comes to those who don’t deserve anything. And you and I fit that bill too. But there’s no need to worry. He became like us, we are safe.

712 “What Child Is This?”

The final hymn we examine was written by the only layman on our list, 712, “What Child is This.” Yet, this fact does not in any way diminish the doctrinal truths contained within its words. This hymn focuses primarily on the humanity of Jesus. Several images are employed to re-create the scene in the hearer’s mind. Mary’s lap, oxen feeding, and the gifts of the Magi are a few examples. The final refrain, “The babe, the Son of Mary” reinforces this central theme.

While this hymn may not span the breadth of doctrines as we have seen with others, it doesn’t shy away from the reason that Christ became human either. Verse 2 speaks of the impending crucifixion with more pointed figures – nails, spear, and cross. Another interesting part about this hymn is its simplicity. There aren’t really any confusing words or thoughts. Each teaching from Scripture is described in such a way that any hearer understand get message, whether seasoned Christian or novice in the faith. For example, at the end of verse 2, the author describes Christ’s humanity without using the theological term, “incarnation.” Instead, he gives the simple definition without missing anything, that Jesus is the Word made flesh. 

Although the words themselves are straightforward, the order of verse 2 could lead to possible confusion. When the hymn reads, “Good Christians fear; For sinners here, The silent Word is pleading…” the hearer may not immediately understand what is meant. To put it another way, what the author is trying to say is that Jesus, as the Christ-child, is the “silent Word.” Even as an infant, He was busy working on behalf of sinners, or “pleading” for them. It’s actually quite an astounding thought. Every breath that Jesus took on this earth was an act of service as our Mediator. He may not have been preaching or healing immediately, but His mission had begun. Even as a tiny infant who could not even talk yet, the silent Word made flesh, He was still the only hope for sinful mankind. That is why we Christians, fear, or respect our Lord and Savior, even at Christmas when He seems so helpless and innocent.    

“What Child is This” reminds us that even the simplest of hymns can have a profound impact on our understanding of God’s Word. This is especially true for our children, who may not know all of the doctrines of the Bible, but can sing songs like Silent Night, Away in a Manger, and this very hymn. Take time with your children to lead and guide them in God’s Word, and use hymns like these to help.

Christmas Eve Service

The Festival of Jesus’ Birth in Nine Lessons
Christmas Eve 2015

Thank you for joining us this evening to celebrate the Reason for Christmas. As this is a worship service, please refrain from taking pictures. Take a moment to silence or turn off your cell phone so your worship is not interrupted. At the end of the service all children are invited to take home a treat bag.

Processional: “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful

Invocation ~ Responsive Reading

Pastor: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Congregation: Amen
P: This evening we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. We rejoice in the hope of our Savior, Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem to die and rise again for our sins. This message is much like that tiny baby in the manger, it is simple and easy to understand and it touches each of our hearts.
C: Lord, open our hearts to listen to Your word and our lips to sing Your praise!

P: Well did David prophecy about the birth and life of this coming Savior, when he wrote, “What is man that You are mindful of him?”
C: “And the son of man, that You visit Him?”
P: “For You have made him a little lower than the angels,”
C: “And You have crowned him with glory and honor.”

P: Well did Jeremiah prophecy about the power of this coming Savior, when He wrote, “’Behold the days are coming’ says the LORD,”
C: “’That I will raise to David a Branch of Righteousness.’”
P: “’A King shall reign and execute judgment’”
C: “’And righteousness in the earth.’”
P: “’In His days Judah will be saved.’”
C: “’And Israel will dwell safely.’”
P: “’Now this is the name by which He will be called:’”
C: “’The LORD our righteousness.’”

P: Well did Zechariah prophecy about the suffering of this coming Savior, when He wrote, “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication.”
C: “They will look on Me whom they pierced.”
P: “Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son,”
C: “And grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”
P: “Strike the Shepherd,”
C: “And the sheep will be scattered.”

P: Well did Job prophecy about the victorious resurrection of this Coming Savior, when he wrote, “For I know that my Redeemer lives,”
C: “And He shall stand at last on the earth.”
P: “And after my skin is destroyed, this I know:”
C: “That in my flesh I shall see God. Whom I shall see for myself. How my heart rejoices within me!”

P: God gave and fulfilled many more promises about this coming Savior throughout His Word. This evening, let us listen and learn as the children speak and sing of these wonderful truths and how they tell us of the true meaning of Christmas. 

Children’s Hymn, “Away in a Manger”                                                                        

1. Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

2. The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes,
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the sky,
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

3. Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there.

Pre-school children: Christmas Prayer

In a manger Jesus lies;  Angels praise Him in the skies.
Shepherds kneel before him low,  To the stable let us go!

Light of heaven and Morning Star,  Little Jesus, thine we are.
Lead us as thy very own,  To the Father’s shining throne.

Congregational Hymn, “On Christmas Night”                                                                                       

Martin Albrecht: Lesson 1                                                                                                           Genesis 3:8-15

God announces in the Garden of Eden that the
Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
                Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
                So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
                And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
                Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
                And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
                The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
                So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Haley Naumann: Lesson 2                                                                                                     Genesis 22:15-18

God promises to faithful Abraham that in his
Seed shall the nations of the earth be blessed.

Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son – blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

Congregational Hymn, “Behold a Branch Is Growing”                                                      

Jack Walden and Elayne Albrecht: Lesson 3                                        Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; Isaiah 11:1-4

Christ’s birth and kingdom are foretold by Isaiah.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.

Keagan Valverde: Lesson 4                                                                                                                Micah 5:2-4

The prophet Micah foretells the glory of little Bethlehem.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” Therefore He shall give them up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel. And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD His God; and they shall abide, for now He shall be great to the ends of the earth.”

Children’s Hymn, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (Congregation join on stanza 4)

Fiona Richardson: Lesson 5                                                                                                      Luke 1:26-35, 38

The angel Gabriel salutes the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
                But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
                And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
                Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Congregational Hymn 94 “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

All Children: Lesson 6                                                                                                                              Luke 2:1-7

St. Luke tells of the birth of Jesus.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into 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 wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Congregational Hymn, “Silent Night”                                                                         

All Children: Lesson 7                                                                                                                           Luke 2:8-20
The angel announces the birth of the Savior,
And the shepherds go to the manger.

                Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.         
                Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, 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, goodwill toward men!”
                So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Children’s Hymn, “Angels We Have Heard on High”                                                                          

Allie Naumann: Lesson 8                                                                                                            Matthew 2:1-11

The wise men are led by the star to Jesus.

                Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
                When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
                So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
                Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”
                When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 Congregational Hymn 98 “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

All Children: Lesson 9                                                                                                                            John 1:1-14

St. John unfolds the great truth of the birth of our Savior!

                In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Children’s Hymn, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” (Congregation join on stanza 5)                                                                                                                
(Children) 1. God rest you merry, gentlemen, Let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Savior Was born on earth this day,
To save us all from Satan’s pow’r When we were gone astray;
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!

(Children) 2. From God our Heav’nly Father A blessed angel came;
And unto certain shepherds Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born The Son of God by Name.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!

(Children) 3. The shepherds at those tidings Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding, In tempest, storm, and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway, The Son of God to find.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

(Children) 4. And when they came to Bethlehem Where our dear Savior lay,
They found Him in a manger, Where oxen feed on hay,
His mother Mary kneeling down, Unto the Lord did pray.
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!

(All) 5. Now to the Lord sing praises, All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas All other doth deface:
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy!




Recessional: “Joy to the World” (Congregation and Children)