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Opening Prayer and Lighting of Candles
[light the four candles] God of wonders, we worship You. We know that You are here with us as we focus our hearts and minds on the miracle of Christ’s birth. What a wondrous season this is when its true meaning is celebrated! Thank You for Your amazing love for us. We surrender our hearts here in worship. You alone deserve our praise.
Songs of Worship
O Come All Ye Faithful
SCRIPTURE – LUKE 2:6-20
While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.
There were sheepherders camping in the area. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.
As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.
Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!
What a glorious day! Imagine sitting out on a hillside with your buddies, settling in for the evening when all-of-a-sudden an angel appears. What’s your first reaction? For these shepherds it was fear: they were terrified! But just like the other two times this has happened in our story (Zachariah & Mary), the Angel’s first words were, “Don’t be afraid!” There was that choice again, fear or faith.
What an announcement the angel made, “a joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: a Savior has just been born!” and then, a huge choir of angels, appeared. No one knows how many, but God probably didn’t skimp on this announcement. Envision a thousand angels filling the sky above the hills of Bethlehem, singing to these shepherds and the entire world: GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST AND ON EARTH, PEACE TO ALL WHO PLEASE HIM!
As this beautiful event came to a close, and the choir disappeared in the same way they appeared, the Shepherds had a choice. The shepherds discussed what they should do. You might not think that they needed much deliberation, but their custom was to build a monument when something holy takes place and some could have argued that waiting for morning light would be helpful, but excitement won over and they ran to see what the Angels told them about.
And what did they find? They found a baby, wrapped in cloth and lying in a manager, just as they were told.
Ken Gire wrote a wonderful books entitled “Intimate Moments with the Savior” and in the first chapter he expounds on the story of Jesus’ birth:
Mary can feel his racing heartbeat as he gropes to nurse. Deity nursing from a young maiden. Could anything be more puzzling—more profound?
Joseph sits exhausted, silent, full of wonder.
The baby finishes and sighs, the divine Word reduced to a few unintelligible sounds. Then, for the first time, his eyes fix on his mother’s. Deity straining to focus. The Light of the World, squinting.
Tears pool in her eyes. She touches his tiny hand. And hands that once sculpted mountain ranges cling to her finger.
And two thousand years later, this event continues to captivate our imagination.
Lighting of the Advent Candle
[light the Christ-Child Advent candle] Halleluia! Glory to God in the highest! On earth, PEACE to all on whom His favor rests!
Closing Song of Worship
Angels We Have Heard On High
Hark The Herald Angels Sing
Joy To The World