December 26th 2021
1st Day of Christmas
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by Session, as well as social distancing
bulletins are placed in the pews to help with social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship will be continuing with beverages only, in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Bonnie and Jon Pillers, Mike Niles, Harlan Marx ,Tom Kelly, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Family of Jack Braden, Lucy Melvin. Bob Emmert, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Rich Lewis, Tom Kelly is having Surgery on Jan 18, and Kay Werner had a stroke
LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE
Words of Introduction & Scripture
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. (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV) Christ is come to us! With gratitude and joy we light the Christ Candle and come to worship our Christ.
Sing (from O Come, All Ye Faithful): #41, chorus only
O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord!
**CALL TO WORSHIP Isaiah 52:7,9, NRSV
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
Lord, we come this day in celebration, but admitting that just as your people long ago needed peace, good news, and salvation, so do we. We come singing some of our favorite songs to worship you, and to receive that comfort you offer us in one of our favorite stories, the birth of your Son into our world. Be present with us, Lord, as we celebrate with you and receive once again the gifts you offer. Amen.
*HYMN Joy to the World #40
As we reflect on the past season, let us make our confession to God.
Lord, we confess to you the times we have rushed or shown our frustration. We confess the times we have been less than patient with those around us. We confess when we have spent too much or cared too little. We confess getting caught up in the world’s style of Christmas and the moments we forgot it’s all about you. Help us move into a new season with our focus sharpened and our hearts softened. Amen.
*WORDS OF ASSURANCE Titus 2:11-14, CEB
The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions.
Because of the gift of Jesus, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!
*SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
*PASSING THE PEACE (facing those across the aisle from you)
Left: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Right: And also with you. May the peace of Christ be with you.
Left: And also with you.
(You may be seated.)
CELEBRATING CHRIST’S BIRTH IN SCRIPTURE AND SONG
Away In A Manger #25
Angels From The Realms Of Glory #22
Angels We Have Heard On High #23
SCRIPTURE LESSON Colossians 3:12-17, NLT
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE A Gift To Keep Giving
I like gifts that keep giving. As I look around my home there are gifts I received from folks in this church at Christmas or at my retirement that continue to give blessings to me. It might be decorations I enjoy at Christmas or year-round. It might be the blanket on my bed or the robe I snuggle in or the toaster oven I use several times a day. It’s furniture and luggage and clothes and memories of a lot of help as I moved into my home. It’s journals I use every Thursday or art supplies or the keyboard ready when I get inspired. I appreciate the on-going usefulness as well as the thoughtfulness of the ones who gave them or the gift money with which I bought them. Think about the gifts you gave and those you received this holiday season. Now imagine how much they will continue to give for a long time to come.
Of course that is also how it is with God’s gift to us the first Christmas. God gave us Jesus, the gift of God’s self, wrapped in human flesh, a gift that continues to give to us through the millennia. In our Call to Worship, Isaiah reminded us that Messiah would bring good news of salvation and would comfort and redeem us. These are gifts of God to us through Christ. In our Words of Assurance, we heard from Paul’s letter to Titus that God did indeed appear and bring salvation for all people. God’s grace came through Jesus, but not only for our own benefit. Paul’s message to Titus adds purpose to our salvation, that redeemed from our old sinful behavior we might live more ethical lives and do good in the world. I think as we turn to the reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians it elaborates what these ethical lives of doing good might include.
As I read the whole section from Colossians, I am also reminded of Paul’s letter to the Romans, the second half of chapter 12. It includes many of the same ideas about how we are to live in this world and treat one another. Many other letters from Paul or Peter are also echoed in this passage. There is a consistency in what the early church was teaching new Christians, as if to say, Now that you believe Jesus came to save you from your sin, here is how you should live going forward. It may seem an unusual message to celebrate Christmas, but what I want us to consider is this. If we believe that God came in Jesus to buy us back from our slavery to sin, to give us that gift of a life that is free in Jesus, then how shall we live going forward? Having received the gift of Christ for ourselves, how do we embody and share that gift by the way we live?
So, let’s imagine for a moment a Christmas tree with lots of wrapped gifts under it. There is a creche nearby with baby Jesus smiling at us as we open these gifts one at a time. Maybe some of you opened gifts with family or friends this weekend or you have memories of doing that in the past. I think of gathering at Aunt Bert and Uncle Charlie’s. At some point after dinner we all found seats in the living room and either Mark or Mike dressed as Santa and came to hand out the gifts. We took turns opening them. Sometimes the younger children were helpers. In our imaginary scene as we explore today’s scripture there is a twist to the usual Christmas scene. While we open these gifts of God one at a time, we aren’t going to keep them to ourselves. I want each of you to think about where you can pass this gift forward, how can you share it with someone else in your life?
First, note that God chose you! Imagine how you feel when the gift being distributed comes to you, whether it came by mail, a knock on the door, or at a gathering, being chosen to receive a gift feels good. God chose you! Let go of any feelings you have of being unworthy or unwanted. God wanted you to receive all the gifts and blessings he sent his son to offer, and God crafted you especially to be one of God’s gifts to the world. You are precious to God. God chose you! Honestly I think to be chosen is in itself an important gift.
Second, God wants to make you holy. To be holy is to be a set apart sacred thing, something consecrated for God’s purposes. God loves you so much that God has a special purpose in mind for you. Because you are called to be God’s emissary with God’s mission to pursue, God wants you to wear appropriate spiritual clothing, so these next gifts are your spiritual attire.
Clothe yourselves with “tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” It’s a five-piece suit, and every piece blends perfectly with the rest as if chosen by a celebrity stylist or inspired by a famous designer. Let’s take a moment to appreciate each piece.
Tenderhearted mercy is translated elsewhere as a heart full of compassion. Think about it. This is how God looks at you, with a heart full of compassion. This is how God wants you to look at others. Compassion and mercy don’t ignore our flaws, but love us anyway. Compassion sees our need and does whatever it can to meet that need. Mercy sees our mistakes and forgives us while still helping us see where we can do better. This tender heart of God doesn’t yell at us or belittle us, though it may nudge us pretty hard and consistently until we agree to the good things God wants for us and from us. Mercy and compassion from God see us as we are, accept us, yet want the best for us. That is how God hopes we will also look at others.
Kindness is one of the fruits of God’s Spirit, a quality God wants to plant and grow within us until it blossoms and bears fruit. To be kind is to do little things that make someone’s life better. It may be random acts of kindness done for a stranger perhaps anonymously like the stories we hear of leaving extra money for the next person’s coffee or helping pay for someone’s groceries. It may be the way we help our neighbor, like shoveling a sidewalk or sharing a plate of cookies. It may be the way we treat our family or others with a little help or a kind word or handling a problem quietly and simply without letting our frustration show. We’ll discover God’s kindness to us in so many little ways if we are paying attention. God also asks you to be kind to one another.
Humility is another gift. To be humble or lowly does not mean allowing yourself to be looked down on or trampled, but to have an attitude that lifts others up when they feel down. To be humble means you don’t lord it over anyone else. Think again about Jesus’ birth. The Lord of heaven humbled himself taking on human flesh and being born of a human mother who had nowhere but a manger to lay him that night. Jesus didn’t choose to be exalted by coming to a royal or wealthy family. Jesus wasn’t born in a fortress or a mansion. Jesus who came by humble birth and lived a simple life growing to be first a carpenter, then an itinerate teacher. He didn’t lord it over others, but shared his wisdom, gifts, and meager supplies with common folk, teaching them with examples from their everyday lives. God isn’t as obsessed with status as we humans tend to be. Regardless of our credentials, we are called to live simple lives, sharing what we have, and not thinking of ourselves as better than anyone else. Instead of bragging about ourselves, we are called to look for the good in everyone else.
Next we have the gift of gentleness. Jesus’ mother, Mary, is often described as gentle. Jesus also bears that trait. When Isaiah described the coming Messiah he said, “a bruised reed he will not break.” (Isaiah 43:3) That’s an image of gentleness. One with a soft touch, a soft-spoken word, one who brings no harm. Think about how Jesus cared for the sick or welcomed little children. Jesus was gentle with them. We can also offer a gentle touch, gentle spirit, and gentle words to those around us. It is a gift that may heal their wounded spirit.
Patience is a significant gift. I am such a slow learner sometimes; I’m certainly glad God is patient with me. I also crave the gift of being more patient with others. This is true not only on an individual level. God was patient a very long time with his people as they continued to wander astray. I pray God is patient with our world as we work to repair the damage done in the past and change our ways for the future. God asks us to “be patient in trouble” (Romans 12:12) and “patient with one everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) To be patient and kind are aspects of love (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Taken together these five characteristics mark a quality of Christian living. They are gifts of God’s spirit to us, that enable us to bless others as well. You will find them mentioned many times in the Bible, for they are enduring qualities God wants each of us to display to the best of our abilities relying on the grace God has already given to us. They are what allow us to forgive others as God has forgiven us, just as verse 13 urges. They fit together as the wrapping of love binding everything together perfectly as God planned. They flow from the peace Christ offers us as we talked about last week, another precious gift God brings through Jesus.
As we receive daily from these gifts of God, let us be truly thankful. May we lift our spirits and perhaps even our voices to offer God praise for all God gives to us, and especially today for the gift of God’s Son, Jesus. May we share from these gifts with all those around us, so that together we dwell in God’s blessing and God’s peace. This is how we pay forward the gifts of Christmas.
*HYMN O Come, All Ye Faithful #41
PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever. Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
As the shepherds offered their worship to the newborn king, so we offer our worship and service to Christ who still reigns as King in our lives. May we share eagerly all he taught us and all we have received by his grace. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven,
He is seated on the right hand of the Father,
And he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*HYMN Go, Tell It On The Mountain #29
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.