How to Celebrate Christmas All Year Long

Worship Service for December 27, 2020

WELCOME

Good morning and welcome to CrossPointe Community Church’s last Sunday of 2020 (yah!) online video presentation. I thank God for all of you and for the opportunity to spend these moments with you. If you’d like to reach out to me, I’d love to hear from you. You can e-mail me at randykmeyer@hotmail.com.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Gail and I are recording this service on Monday, December 22nd, the day after recording the Christmas Eve service. If you tuned into that service last Thursday you heard that thus far we had received over $ 9,000 towards our special Christmas Offering! And I have a hunch that not all of those gifts had come in as of last Monday. When we get a final figure this coming week, I will pass along the wonderful news!

Once again, these contributions will enable CrossPointe to remain current with our financial obligations. And I thank You for your response to the challenge. I thank God for stirring your hearts to give. And I thank God for each of you. In the midst of a somewhat muted by CoVid Christmas season, you have given all of us at CrossPointe a reason to rejoice in that that the Giver of every good and perfect gift is alive and well in our midst. And is not that the Christmas Message: “The virgin will give birth to a Son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which means, God with us!’” (Isaiah 7:14).

CALL TO WORSHIP

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped Him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Luke 2:1-7

CHRISTMAS CAROL

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

Lord God Almighty, as we continue to celebrate Christmas and think about the coming year, our hearts rejoice! For Jesus Christ was born to open heaven’s door, and we are blest forevermore. May that blessing of Christmas fill us with Your joy, not only through this worship service but through all of the coming New Year. For we ask this, as always, in the name of Jesus who was born for this. Amen.

THE GIVING OF THE LORD’S OFFERING

(see announcement above)

Thanks be to God for indescribable gift!

II Corinthians 9:15

PRAYER SONG

Away In A Manger

Luther, Martin / McFarland, John Thomas / Murray, James Ramsey

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

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.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

Alan Robbins

Dear Lord, our Heavenly Father.

Away in the Manger is such a beautiful song of the Christmas Season. Let us take a moment to pause and reflect upon the birth of baby Jesus and the special meaning that this has for the start of our salvation.

Be near me, Lord Jesus
I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me, I pray

From these simple lyrics, we are ever so thankful for all the wonderful blessings you have given us and hope we can use these blessings to give help and strength to those in need and to spread God’s wonderful message to make our world a better place.

Lord, we know you will stay by our side. We know you will listen and guide our prayers to Reach Out… to Hold… to give Help… to give Love… to give Peace… and to give Joy to those that are grieving, for those that are ill, for those that are hurting in any way and prayers for our own needs.

Thank you, Lord, as we give God’s Glory… and Grace… and Joy… and Refuge… and Strength… and Love… to our community and the world in which we live.

For these things we pray. Amen

SCRIPTURE

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.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Luke 2:8-20

THE MESSAGE

Randy K’Meyer

How to Celebrate Christmas All Year Long

In a Dennis the Menace cartoon, it was a cold, snowy middle of January day when Mr. Wilson was quietly sitting in his living room reading a newspaper. Suddenly, he was interrupted by a thin, piping voice singing, Joy to the World, the Lord has come. He opened his front door in time to hear Dennis finish with and heaven and heaven and nature sing. Mr. Wilson says, “Dennis, it’s the middle of January, don’t you think it’s a little late?”

“But Mr. Wilson, I had measles at Christmas and I’m just now getting around to my Christmas caroling.”

Even though it wasn’t too funny, I like the sentiment. For it didn’t matter what time of year it was, nothing was going to stop Dennis from celebrating Christmas. The birth of Jesus brought joy to his heart and he wanted to share it with others.

Luke tells us the birth of Jesus gave the shepherds something to celebrate about and I have a feeling that it didn’t matter to them what time of the year it was.

This text tells us after they had been to Bethlehem and saw the baby Jesus, “The shepherds told everyone what had happened.”

In other words, the shepherds were evangelists, witnesses to what they experienced. They were witnesses because there was an event. And there were people who needed to hear about it.

We all know those same two dynamics still exist today.

When I say there was an event, I’m not talking about Jesus being born in Bethlehem, as much as I am talking about Jesus being born in our hearts. We may not remember the exact moment, but we should know that at some point in our life, we by faith made a commitment to Jesus and what He has done for us.

So, just as there was an event the shepherds experienced and could share with others, so there was an experience with the Divine in our lives that we can share and should share with others.

If there was no experience, we’d have nothing to say. But since there was, we have a story to tell.

Just as the shepherds lived in a world that needed to hear some good news, so do we. And if we really desire to join Dennis in celebrating Christmas all year long, we can do so by telling others not only about the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, but more importantly, the birth of Christ in our hearts.

There is a family in South Carolina who really get into the Christmas spirit. Not only do they do they light up their house and grounds with 15,000 lights, the family members drape themselves with strands of Christmas lights and stand out by the road waving to people as they pass by. Those folks are Christians who take very seriously the words of Jesus to be lights of the world.

Dr. Fred Craddock, who before he died, was regarded as one of the premier preachers in America, graduated from Johnson Bible College in Knoxville, Tenn.

While at school there, he was a student-pastor of a church in east Tennessee. It was a beautiful white frame building located in a picturesque valley in Anderson County. There were good people in that church, a warm, loving family of Christian brothers and sisters.

But a couple of months after Rev. Craddock arrived something caught his attention. He noticed that none of the new people in that community; those who had come to work on the big government project at Oak Ridge, most of whom were living in a new trailer park to house them; none of those people came to church.

Dr. Craddock called the leaders together and suggested they try to find ways to reach out to those folks. And the leaders responded with, “Oh, we don’t think so, they don’t fit in here.”
Dr. Craddock protested, “They need Christ, they need His church.”
And the leaders reiterated, “No, we don’t think so.”

And the next Sunday the leaders passed a resolution: “Members will be admitted to this church only from the families who own property in Anderson County.”

Years later, Dr. Craddock and his wife took a vacation and decided to take a trip back to that community. He searched out the church and found it. It was still a picture postcard little church building. But Fred Craddock was surprised to find that the church sign now read: “Barbecued Chicken, Ribs and Pork.”

You see, it wasn’t a church anymore. It was a restaurant now and the parking lot was pretty much full of cars. Dr. Craddock and his wife both enjoyed barbeque so they went inside and sat down on one of those church pews that now surrounded that church’s eight-foot tables.

The building was packed and Fred Craddock remarked to his wife, “It’s a good thing this isn’t a church anymore; these folks would not be welcome!”

Now in obvious ways, that story does not apply to that pretty little building located at 7230 Lake Road in Chippewa Lake, Ohio.

I believe and know with all my heart that there isn’t one person who associates with CrossPointe Community Church who would ever even think for a moment about excluding anyone from our fellowship. We love all people. We welcome all people with open arms.

But that story is a parable for every church in America, including ours, for it reminds us of the importance of sharing the good news that Jesus saves. Any church that neglects its calling to share the good news all year long is in danger of becoming a barbeque joint.

Now, like Fred Craddock, I like barbeque. But I don’t like it as much as I do God’s Church. And this is a message to remind all of us of our calling by Christ Himself to be bearers of God’s Good news in 2021. That applies to the church and to us as individuals.

And practically speaking, this is going to be more important in 2021 than ever before. As a result of the Coronavirus, there has been a huge increase in the number of churches that have or soon will be closing their doors for good. I’m not saying that’s going to happen at CrossPointe. I don’t believe for a minute that is going to happen at CrossPointe.

We are strong, we are healthy. But if we hope to maintain a strong, healthy, vibrant church, we must be more proactive than we have been in the past with regards to reaching people for Christ; both as a church and as individuals.

This will be one of my special emphases in this coming new year. I know of a program called Each One Reach One. I don’t know for sure if we are going to officially participate in the program. But I like its emphasis: if each person at CrossPointe would reach one person for Christ in the coming year, then our church will be much better off come 2022.

There was once a funeral director, who was admired and respected by all. One peculiarity about him was a little black book with a locking cover that was very precious to him. Occasionally he would open it up at funerals and make notations in it. You can imagine the gossip as to what the contents of the little black book were.

Now there was a teenage boy who began working for that funeral director. One day he asked a colleague if he knew what was in the black book. “He keeps his list of girlfriends in there, was the answer.”

The boy was taken aback, so he asked the receptionist who told him that their boss kept his list of horses he bet on at the track. The boy began to wonder if he was working for a womanizing gambler. For the three years the boy worked there the intrigue about black book grew.

Then suddenly one day as the funeral director conducted a funeral, he had a massive heart attack and died and four days later there was a funeral for him. The boy was standing in the back of the packed church sobbing as the pastor went on about how great his boss was and how just knowing him was a blessing.

Then the widow spoke, thanked everyone for coming, and announced she was going to let everyone know a secret about his character. “Oh no,” the boy thought, “here it comes.”

She said, “I would like to read the first entry from his black book, dated April 17, 1920. “Mary Flannery; she is all alone.” The next date, August 8, 1920: “Fred Pritchard; he is all alone now.” November 15, 1920: “Frieda Gale; she is a lonely widow now.” You see whenever my husband made funeral arrangements for someone all alone, he would write their name in this book. Then, at Christmas time, he would call and invite that person to a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner at our home. I want you all to know that this was the true character of my husband. He was a caring, compassionate man whose heart went out to the lonely. And I want you to realize that since this is 1971, he did this for 50 Christmases.”

32 years later, that boy, now a grown Christian man, looks back at the inner spirit that motivated his boss to do what he did and can only imagine how much more Christmas compassion would be doled out at this time of year and all through the year if all Christians were to take up the habit of keeping a little black book containing the names of those who are without Christ in their lives. And pray for those folks and invite those folks and offer Christ to those people in need and in this way celebrate Christmas all year long.

PRAYER

(Please pray as you are led by God’s Spirit.)

CLOSING SONG

Go Tell It On the Mountain

Work, John W.

Down in a lowly manger,
The humble Christ was born;
And brought us God’s salvation,
That blessed Christmas morn.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

While shepherds kept their watching,
O’er silent flocks by night
Behold throughout the heavens,
There shone a holy light.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

The shepherds feared and trembled,
When lo above the earth;
Rang out the angel chorus,
That hailed our Savior’s birth.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

When I was a seeker,
I sought both night and day;
I asked the Lord to help me,
And He showed me the way.

Go tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

©Public Domain
CCLI License 1843349

BENEDICTION

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Randy K'Meyer

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