Always A Christmas?

Worship Service for December 26, 2021

WELCOME

Good day, and welcome to Christmas Day Plus One worship presentation.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Next Sunday, I want to start the New Year right with a service of prayer for the coming year.

CALL TO WORSHIP

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Luke 2:8-14

OPENING WORSHIP SONGS

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Wesley, Charles/Mendelssohn, Felix

Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled’.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King’.

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail, the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King’.

Hail the heav’n born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the newborn King’

Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

Good Christian Men Rejoice

Neale, John Mason

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart, and soul, and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say;
Jesus Christ is born today.
Ox and lamb before Him bow,
And He is in the manger now.
Christ is born today!
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart, and soul, and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss;
Jesus Christ was born for this!
He hath opened heaven’s door
And man is blessed forevermore.
Christ was born for this!
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart, and soul, and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave,
Jesus Christ was born to save!
Calls you one and calls you all,
To gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save!
Christ was born to save!

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

On this first Sunday after Christmas, we are still awash in the Christmas Spirit. We sing with the angels and rejoice with our sisters and brothers in Christ that Jesus was born, that He dwelt among us, that He gave His life on the cross and You O Father raised Him on the third day. And now we look forward with great expectation that Christ will come again and set everything that is awry right! For we ask in His precious name, amen.

OFFERING

If you would like to send your offering through the mail, our mailing address is:

CrossPointe Community Church
P O Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215

OFFERING/PRAYER SONG

What Child is This?

Dix, William Chatterton

What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and lamb are feeding?
Good Christian, fear for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear, shall pierce Him thro’,
The Cross be borne, for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him.
The King of kings, salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

Nancy Carr

Will you please join me in prayer.

We gather together this morning, Lord, to worship you with praises and in celebration! We are nothing but lowly sinners, undeserving of your great love. Yet you have heard our cries and sent us a gift like no other. For you have said, “At just the right time I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you. And just as the prophet foretold, “O Bethlehem of Judah you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people”.

See – God has come to save us. We will trust in Him and not be afraid. The Lord God is our strength and our song. He has become our salvation. Jesus is the key! Today is the day of our salvation. For without your precious son, Father we would be lost!

No other event in history has had a greater impact on humanity. For your son came from a throne, to a lowly stable, to a cross and back to His throne. He came to forgive us of our sins. All so we can have eternal life. Thank you heavenly Father, for amidst our dark, fragile, and broken world you have sent a healing light. The hope that we long for has come. The Great Shepherd, Jesus, is the shining light that chases away all darkness. Our Savior, Messiah has come. We have the confident assurance that this amazing gift of joy for all people will result in lasting peace for all who accept Him. As your sons and daughters, we bow low to you today for “God is with us”.

Guide us to witness to others who have not yet heard the Good News of Salvation. Let us reach out in faith to make an impact for your kingdom. May we lend our hearts and tune our ears to those around us who are hurting and in need. Teach us to share the joy of knowing Jesus to everyone we meet. Help us to embrace your love all the days of our lives, so that one day, we may join with the angels to sing hymns of praise at your throne in heaven.

Amen

SCRIPTURE

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, He was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before He was conceived. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about Him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on Him.

Luke 2:21-40

MESSAGE

Always A Christmas?

Randy K’Meyer

Did you hear about the guy in Florida who got in a fistfight with Santa Claus? This is not a joke. This guy loved the fact that Christmas gave him an extra excuse to be happy and consequently had one too many something or others and became upset because Christmas doesn’t last all year long. So he went from the saloon to the mall to finish his shopping, ran into Santa Claus, and asks “Are you going to be here next week?”

When jolly old Saint Nick informed this guy that he certainly would not, this guy takes a poke at Santa. What he didn’t expect was that Father Christmas was more than up to the challenge. In fact, the guy in the red suit pretty much beat the stuffing out of this Christmas-all-year-round advocate. Bystander, Katherine Phillips said, “Santa Claus whipped his butt.”

By the way, the article concluded by saying that Santa left the scene before police arrived, and his identity remains a mystery. So who knows?

Guideposts Magazine contains a story about Marcia, another Christmas all year advocate, who sat in her therapist’s, Barbara’s, office on a cold, gloomy, January afternoon. “I wish it was still Christmas,” Marcia murmured.

“You do?” Barbara said, and Marcia thought her therapist sounded surprised.

“Yes,” she said, “Doesn’t everybody long for the bright lights of Christmas
at this dismal time of year?”

“What is it about Christmas you love?” her therapist asked.

Marcia’s mind filled with images of dark nights and pretty lights, Santa flying across the sky, a pile of presents under the tree, cookies and fudge, feasts and family, and songs about the little Lord Jesus laying down his sweet head.

What is it about Christmas you love?

I suppose that at one time or another every one of us has wished Christmas could last all year long. But when we take time to give the matter some thought, we arrive at the conclusion that to do so would be not only impossible but also not even desirable. For if we went to the effort to maintain all of the decorations and images of Christmas . . . it wouldn’t be special anymore.

Even so, Barbara says to Marcia “it’s our job to find the Christmas in every day.”

Now Barbara writes, “Now, I look for Christmas in every day. I find it on the soft cheeks of my children and in their backyard laughter, and in the six wrinkles that appear on my husband’s forehead when he sees that I’ve strung Christmas lights around the window in July. And on those days when I can’t see past the gray slush of January, I pull out another string of lights and wind it around the silk ficus tree, and pour myself a cup of coffee in my red Christmas mug.”

For those of us who wish it were always Christmas, I have an alternative to strings of lights and red Christmas mugs, or anything else that we might wish to surround ourselves with.

As you already suspect my idea is not really mine at all. The ideas come from Simeon and Anna. They wish us to understand that there will always be a Christmas because, (1), there will always be a Christ and a chance to receive Him, and (2), there will always be the opportunity to receive as well as to give the gift of love He offers.

Simeon’s appearance in the Christmas story is almost an afterthought, but the truth he has to offer us is timeless.

“Lord, now I can die in peace for as you promised I have seen the Savior.”

He reminds us there will always be a Christmas because there will always be Christ.

On the Sunday after Christmas, a pastor arrived early in the morning to prepare for the worship service. He paused beside an almost life-size Nativity scene to say a prayer of thankfulness for the wonderful Christmas Eve service they had two nights before. Looking at that manger scene, the pastor could almost feel the reverence of that night long ago night. Then suddenly, he noticed the manger was empty!

The pastor phoned the janitor who didn’t know anything about missing Jesus, but he volunteered to come right away and help the pastor search the building, but to no avail. So the pastor called all the people he could think of who could possibly have removed Jesus from the manger, but no one had a clue. The only thing he could conclude was that Jesus must have been stolen. So with sadness, the pastor informed the congregation that morning of the theft. And he announced that the figure of the Christ Child would be returned that day no one will ask any questions.

Toward the end of the afternoon, the pastor left the parsonage which was located next to the church, to take a walk. He only got half a block when he saw 8-year-old Tommy coming his way proudly pulling behind him a brand Christmas new red wagon. As the two drew near, the pastor noticed that the wagon wasn’t empty. There lay Jesus wrapped in a blanket, but not quite hidden. The pastor knelt down determined to make him understand that stealing was wrong. Tommy’s eyes began to fill with what the pastor was sure were penitent tears. “But pastor, the boy choked out, “I didn’t steal Jesus. I’ve been asking Him for this wagon for a long time and I promised Him if He saw that I got it, I’d take Him out for the first ride.”

That pastor should have known better. Nobody can steal Jesus! There will always be a Christmas for there will always be a Christ.

Now it is true, that we can ignore Jesus. We can take Him out of the closet, dust Him off, and put Him on display when it suits us or when we really need Him nearby for whatever reason. And when we’re finished with Him or He has served His purpose in our lives, we can wrap Him back up in tissue paper and gently lay Him back in a box and store Him away with all our other Christmas decorations, where we wish for Him to wait until we need to take Him out again.

Yes, we can ignore Him, and sometimes He can be misplaced. Sometimes in our lives, we put Him away for so long we forget where He is. Sometimes it can be so long, we don’t even know where to look anymore. And then it becomes necessary for God or someone else who cares about us to kick us in the butt and remind us that He’s only a prayer away.

And, you know, the strange yet remarkable truth is that when we treat Him like that, He doesn’t treat us back the same. When the word became flesh, He became so vulnerable and He still is. Even when we take Him for granted and call upon Him periodically, He’s there.

But He wishes for oh so much more. He told His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, instead I call you friends.”

In other words, He’s saying, “I’d wish you’d think about me during your day. I hope our conversations will bring you comfort, I’d like our dialog to have some give and take. I want you to know that you are never alone; to feel that wherever you go and whatever you do, there’s a friend at your side. And regardless of how bad things get, I’m right here. I want you to discover my presence in your daily life.”

And for those who discover Him in those ways, Simeons’ prophecy rings true: “He will be the greatest joy to many others.”

Just like He was a great joy for Tommy. In taking Jesus for a wagon ride, Tommy was just treating Him as he would a good friend.

Are you a Christmas year-round advocate? Forget the tinsel and lights. Jesus is here to stay!

Anna also makes an all too brief appearance in the Christmas story, yet she too gives an important reminder to all “Christmas all year” hopefuls.

The spirit of Christmas can and should live in our hearts as we dole out the gift of love that Christ would have us offer. Luke tells us that Anna, “Talked about Jesus to everyone who had been waiting for the Promised King to come.”

We’re talking about sharing Christ’s love with others, through word and deed.

Today, I want to emphasize that perhaps the best way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our hearts all year long is by remembering to share His gift of love with others. We don’t need a red Christmas mug to remind us of the joy of Christmas. We just need to remember to share gifts of love with others all year long.

A single mom and her 8-year-old daughter Laura were struggling to make ends meet and Christmas was only weeks away. Their family didn’t expect gifts from them but they wanted so badly to give. And together they came up with an idea to ask each family member to write down one thing they love about each of the other family members. Each page would say at the top, ‘We love you because.’ Then they would rewrite everybody’s comments about Grandma on a page for her and all the comments about Grandpa on a page for him and so on. Then they made a little booklet for each person that also included which family member made each comment.

Within a week their gifts were complete. Laura had gathered wonderful quotes from every member of the family, things they might not have otherwise bothered to tell one another.

Christmas morning came and as each of the books was opened the family member would smile in the realization of the part he or she had played in the gifts Laura and her mom had given. Then the recipient would eagerly and joyfully read what nice things had been said about him or her.

But mom’s sister, Noreen, had a slightly different reaction. She cried. Noreen had lived a whole lifetime of physical pain due to a rare blood disorder that was systematically invading every part of her body. She had risen above her physical limitations, again and again, to try to live a normal life. But as the years and her health fell away, she had watched friends become distant, college become an impossibility, a career and marriage become mere dreams. She tried to be an optimist, but some days she confessed to feeling unloved, even by God.

So when she read the words, “We love you because,” she cried. There were many words that followed; words about her compassion for others her talent and generosity, her perseverance and hope. Her page was full of their love and admiration for her. None of them had thought, before that moment, just how much she needed to know these things. So their Christmas gift to Noreen was a special blessing from God.

Perhaps you’ve heard the powerful story coming out of WWI of the friendship of two soldiers in the trenches. They were serving together in the mud and misery of that wretched European stalemate. Month after month they lived their lives in the trenches. From time to time, one side would rise up out of the trenches, fling their bodies against the opposing line and slink back to lick their wounds, bury their dead, and wait to do it all over again. Day after day, night after night, terror after terror, they talked of life, of family, of hope, of what they would do when and if they were able to survive.

On one of these fruitless charges, one of the two was severely wounded. His friend made it back to the relative safety of the trenches. Meanwhile, his friend lay suffering beneath the night flares. Between the trenches . . . alone.

The shelling continued, the danger was at its peak. Between the trenches was no place to be. But the wounded man’s friend was ready to go out on a limb to try to save him if he could. The officer in charge refused to let him leave the trench. It was simply too dangerous and he didn’t want to lose another man. But ignoring his officer, the smell of mustard gas in the air, the pounding of the incoming shells, and the pounding in his chest, he went over the top and finally reached his friend. His friend was mortally wounded but still alive. Somehow they managed to get back to the safety of the trenches, but too late. The somewhat self-righteous officer, seeing the dead body, cynically asked if it had been worth the risk. “Yes, sir, it was. My friend’s last words made it more than worth it. He looked up at me and said, “I knew you’d come.”

You know that story is a parable of life and death. There are many, many, many people who are between the trenches, between heaven and hell. What they need is someone to leave the relative safety of the trench we call church and take the risks necessary to reach them with the life-giving message of Jesus Christ.

Will that someone be you . . . will that someone be me?

PRAYER IN RESPONSE TO THE MESSAGE

[I encourage you to pray as you feel led by the Spirit of God].

CLOSING SONG

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Longfellow Henry W./Calkin, Jean Baptiste

I heard the bells on Christmas Day,
Their old familiar carols play;
And wild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom;
Had rolled along the unbroken song,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head,
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of peace on earth, good will to men’.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men’.

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day;
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

BENEDICTION

Grace and peace be with you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and may the spirit of Christmas warm your hearts all year long.
Amen.

Randy K'Meyer

Leave a Reply Text