Skipping Christmas

Worship Service for December 13, 2020

WELCOME

Good morning. Welcome to CrossPointe Community Church’s 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.

Someone once said, “Tis the season . . . to be jolly!”

So I found an on-line article titled:

40 Jolly Christmas Puns That Will Make You Fa-La-La-Laugh Out Loud
THESE FUNNY CHRISTMAS PUNS WILL SLEIGH YOU!

  1. What do you call a party for snowmen? A snowball.
  2. What genre of music do elves love to listen to? Wrap.
  3. What did Santa name his dog? Santa Paws!
  4. What is Santa’s favorite breakfast food? Snow-flakes.
  5. What did one ornament say to another? “I like hanging with you.”
  6. What do you call Santa when he accidentally falls into the fireplace?
    Krisp Kringle.
  7. How do sheep greet each other during the holidays? Fleece Navidad!
  8. How do the elves clean Santa’s sleigh on the day after Christmas?
    They use Santa-tizer!

ANNOUNCEMENTS

I will be at the church today until 12 noon for those of you who wish to drop off your offering. You may place it in the box that is located in the lobby. If you prefer to send your offering in the mail, the address is:

CrossPointe Community Church
P. O. Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215-0126

Because one family we contacted declined, we are only adopting three rather than four families for Christmas. You were e-mailed concerning the particulars and Suz Lemmon has made me aware that you folks are already responding to the need. We will have until December 20th to bring these items to the church for distribution. I will be at the church from 10:00 to noon on Sundays and from noon to 3:00 pm on Wednesdays for you to drop items off. Thank you for your generosity.

Please note that this month’s Community Meal will take place this coming Friday, December 18th. As always we are looking for volunteers to help in carrying the food from the kitchen to the cars.

One last thing as it concerns announcements. This pandemic is taking a toll on the church in America. Our guru, Thom Rainer, wrote this past week that he is hearing from hundreds of pastors all over the country who are reporting a rather significant decline in the number of people watching on-line worship services. We do not have the capability to know how many are viewing ours. But it would be in the church’s best interest if we did. So I have a favor to ask. If you are viewing this worship service today, would you simply e-mail or text me to let me know. You can do this by simply writing the number of people in your household who may be watching with you. If you’d like to add a comment, that would be great.

Up until last month, our offerings have remained steady right from the beginning of this pandemic. What a testimony to your faithfulness. However; as you might have noticed in the bulletin info we e-mail every week, our offerings have fallen off the last three weeks. This past week, we dropped below $1,000 in our operating fund for the first time in a long time. In fact, the exact amount is $450.75. With that in mind, the leaders of our church have decided to give us all the opportunity to participate in a Special Christmas offering. Think about what you have been given; especially the gift of God’s Son and all the blessings that accompany that gift. And consider giving an offering over and above what you give on a weekly basis. Mark your check “Christmas” and either bring it by on Sundays or Wednesdays or send it in the mail. We are hopeful that your response to this need will enable us to continue our mission and ministry. So please give this matter some thought and prayer. In fact, why not pray for a Christmas miracle in this regard.

O Lord, our God, we thank You for sending Your Son Jesus not only to save us from our sins but also to create His Church to point people to that truth. We thank You that despite the fact that are not able to gather together for worship, we can still worship You in Spirit and truth from the comfort of our homes. And We thank you that during this pandemic that CrossPointe has been able to continue our mission and ministry to people in need. We believe that when Jesus said, He would build His Church, He was inviting us to participate and cooperate with Him in doing just that. With that in mind, I pray that Your people at CrossPointe would reflect upon the magnificent gift that You gave on that first Christmas and respond to Your grace with generosity of our own so that CrossPointe will continue to prevail through Christmas and on into the New Year. We ask this of You in the name of Your Son, even Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

CALL TO WORSHIP

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us.
The government will rest on His shoulders.
And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

CHRISTMAS CAROLS

There’s A Song in the Air

Holland, Josiah G. / Harrington, Karl P.

There’s a song in the air!
There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer,
And a baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire,
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem,
Cradles a King.

There’s a tumult of joy,
O’er the wonderful birth,
For the Virgin’s sweet boy,
Is the Lord of the earth.
Ay! The star rains its fire,
While the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem
Cradles a King!

In the light of that star,
Lie the ages impearled!
And that song from afar,
Has swept over the world.
Every hearth is aflame,
And the beautiful sing
In the homes of the nations,
That Jesus is King!

We rejoice in the light,
And we echo the song
That comes down thro’ the night
From the heavenly throng.
Ay! We shout to the lovely
Evangel they bring.
And we greet in His cradle,
Our Savior and King.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

Angels from the Realms of Glory

Montgomery, James/Smart, Henry T.

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story,
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Come and worship,
Come and worship;
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Shepherds in the fields abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night;
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant Light.

Come and worship,
Come and worship;
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations,
Ye have seen His natal star.

Come and worship,
Come and worship;
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Come and worship,
Come and worship;
Worship Christ, the newborn King!

©Public Domain
CCLI License No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

O Lord, our God, we join the angels, shepherds and all the saints in glory in bowing down to worship You. For you have touched our hearts to believe by faith that the cradle of Bethlehem cradles a King. We invite You to reign in our hearts, not only during these moments of worship, but just as importantly throughout the coming week. We ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

THE GIVING OF THE LORD’S OFFERING

(see announcement above)

PRAYER 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

MORNING PRAYER

Karen Tate

Dear Lord,

We are so thankful for the wonderful gift you gave on Christmas. May we always remember that not everyone has accepted this most precious gift. Please help us listen to your Holy Spirit as you guide us, and may our words and actions encourage those needing your gift open their hearts to You.

We come to You celebrating a Christmas unlike any other. This is a year we miss so many of the traditions of Christmas. We miss gathering for large Christmas dinners, singing Silent Night together, sharing cookies, seeing our elderly parents and hugging our adult children and friends. We don’t know why the pandemic is here, but we know You are in control, and the pandemic cannot take away the reason for Christmas- a chance to celebrate Your son’s birthday.

We pray for those who lost love ones this year. Please send your peace to them this Christmas. For those who are sick, physically or mentally we ask for healing. Please be with those caring for them, guiding them and giving them strength. How hard it must be to be sick this time of year, while others are celebrating.

This most glorious time of year feels so awkward while some are suffering. Please help us listen to the Holy Spirit and do your will in all things.

Thank you for sending Jesus, in whose name we pray,

Amen

SCRIPTURE

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God.

Luke 1:26-35

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,
which means ‘God is with us.’”

Matthew 1:18-23

THE MESSAGE

Randy K’Meyer

Skipping Christmas

This past Tuesday evening, Gail and I watched Christmas with the Kranks, a movie based on a book titled, Skipping Christmas. Tim Allen plays Luther Krank, a man who is frustrated that his family spent over $6,000 on the previous Christmas, and now they have nothing to show for it. When their only child, Blair, leaves home to join the Peace Corps, Luther’s wife, Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis) sadly says, “Christmas is just not going to be the same this year.”

Luther agrees and convinces her to go on a Caribbean cruise in order to skip Christmas altogether. They decide to skip the tree, lights, gift-buying, neighborhood decorations even their annual Christmas Eve party. But the Kranks soon discover that skipping Christmas unleashes a series of unknown, negative yet humorous consequences. If you’d like to know what, you can stream it on your preferred provider.

“Christmas is just not going to be the same this year.”

The coronavirus has reached a much more dangerous level now than last spring. It doesn’t look as though the governor is going to shut down the economy. But we are being warned not to go anywhere unless we absolutely have to. And we are being warned not to do what we enjoy very much to do at Christmas; to gather with people we love; including our church family.

So some of us may be tempted to follow the Krank’s lead and skip Christmas 2020.

If you could hop into H. G. Wells’ time machine and travel into the future to say December 13, 2021 when this pandemic will be in the rear view mirror, how many of you would? Raise your hands please. What . . . I see no takers . . . what, am I dealing with a bunch of Christmas diehards? Apparently you already know what the Kranks found out. Skipping Christmas is not such a good idea.

If you think about it, there were people present at the very first Christmas who would have gladly skipped it.

I can’t imagine that Joseph and Mary were too excited about the whole idea. An unexpected pregnancy, the possibility of her being stoned, the agonizing prospect of a divorce, a hastily thrown together wedding, a government mandate to make a laborious week-long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem to participate in a census; only to discover ‘no vacancy’ signs wherever they went.

Think about the tremendous stress they endured for those nine months. You and I would have wanted to skip all that too.

But then, “She gave birth to her first born son and laid Him in a manger” (Luke 2:7), and that made all the difference.

It’s not too hard to imagine the joy they shared when they heard their little baby begin to cry for the first time. But his birth was only the beginning.

Luke and Matthew tell us of a number of mysterious yet wonderful encounters; visiting shepherds who speak of angel choirs, the prophets Simeon and Anna in the Temple who speak of their child as coming from God with a special mission, the visit of wise sages bearing extravagant gifts all serve to convince Mary and Joseph that angelic visits nine months earlier did portend something amazing for their child after all.

So although at the beginning of their journey they might have felt like skipping the hassle and stress of that first Christmas, after Jesus was born it made all the difference for Joseph and Mary!

Still does for people like you and I.

So for those of us pondering how we will celebrate Christmas 2020 and/or thinking of following in the footsteps of Luther and Nora Krank and holding out till Christmas 2021, we must remember that there will always be a Christmas because there will always be a Christ.

Bill Keane, in his comic strip, Family Circus, communicated a beautiful truth about Christmas. As children were setting up a nativity set, little Dolly held up the baby Jesus and declared, “Here’s the star of Bethlehem!”

You better believe it! He makes all the difference. He not only forgives all of our sins, making us right with God His Father, He promises us His continual presence! His words to Joshua apply to us: “Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “They shall call his name Immanuel, which means God with us” (Isaiah 7:14).

Maybe the phrase, Jesus is the reason for the season, is overused. But perhaps God is going to use this pandemic to amplify that truth! Perhaps God is removing some of our opportunities to celebrate Christmas in all the old familiar ways so we can focus exclusively on what’s most important about Christmas: that there will always be a Christmas ONLY because there will always be a Christ.

Because this is so, I want to say to you that Christmas 2020 has the potential, if we’ll give it a chance, to be the most meaningful Christmas ever.

I want to say to you that we will all have more time this Christmas than ever to slow down and re-discover that the same Jesus born in Bethlehem has also been born anew in our hearts. And that makes all the difference!

I want to say to you that we should approach this Christmas not with woe, but with wonder, always keeping our eyes open and our souls awake to the very real possibility of Christmas miracles.

History is replete with examples of people who can tell a story of how their most meaningful and even miraculous Christmas occurred in the midst of unwanted and difficult circumstances.

One of my favorite stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Christmas Cheer is a first-hand account written by Gene Duval, an American GI, who was a POW in Stalag 7 located 15 kilometers from Munich, Germany.

(Please try to paint yourself into this picture).

“The 100’s of GI’s imprisoned there were barely surviving with an old flannel shirt, a woolen trench coat with more holes than material, and an old horse blanket. Very few still had the wool pants that they hit Omaha Beach with. To discourage escape attempts . . . they weren’t allowed belts, socks or shoelaces.

Their barracks were thin-walled unheated buildings without water or electricity and as Christmas 1944 approached Europe was experiencing a deep freeze.

Despite their circumstances, one of the POW’s suggested they put on a Christmas play, culminating in a Nativity scene of the Holy family. The word spread and the idea caught like wildfire. An ex-stage director volunteered to head up the production, committees were formed, a choir took shape, ushers and stagehands were recruited. There were more volunteers than positions.

Everyone began to scrounge whatever he could . . . scraps of wood to build a stage, little pieces of tin, paper, and cloth to make ornaments. Raisins, prunes, sugar, chocolate, and powdered milk from the Red Cross were hoarded for weeks to be added to several loaves of black bread to make a pudding that would be given to each man as they came to the show.

As Christmas drew near, the anticipation and enthusiasm grew more contagious with each passing day.

Finally it was Christmas Eve. They could only jam 75 guys at a time in the barracks so they had to schedule a showing every hour beginning at 6pm.

‘Where the energy in our weakened bodies came from since we were slowly starving only God knows,’ writes Duval. ‘As we began to sing O Come All Ye Faithful, joyful and triumphant there were so many men crying that we had to stop the show.’

‘After the audience filed out after only the third show, we heard the distinctive sound of German boots coming our way. In marched a German Colonel, two Majors, three Captains and about sixty enlisted men. But instead of putting an end to the night, they sat down to watch the play. We gave each one a piece of the bread pudding and some of our holiday drink. The Germans were so overwhelmed to see that people in our situation would go to all that trouble to celebrate the Christ of Christmas and treat the enemy with such kindness that many men on both sides were crying . . . including me.” 1

Skipping Christmas?

Maybe, but we dare not skip Christ. We can skip the shopping, the presents, the Christmas tree, the stockings hung by the chimney with care. We can skip Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty too. We can skip the annual CrossPointe Christmas dinner and the gathered Christmas Eve worship Service with its candles and carols.

We can skip it all. It wouldn’t be a sin.

But we must not, we dare not, we will not skip Christ.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

“There’s a song in the air! There’s a star in the sky!
There’s a mother’s deep prayer and a Baby’s low cry!
And the star rains its fire while the beautiful sing,
For the manger of Bethlehem cradles a King!” 2

PRAYER

(I encourage all of you to pray as you feel led)

CLOSING SONG

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

SCRIPTURAL BENEDICTION

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

1 Gene Duvall, My Most Memorable Christmas. In Chicken Soup for the Soul, Our 101 Best Stories, Christmas Cheer, by Jack Canfield, Mark Hanson and Amy Newmark. [Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing,
© 2008]. Pages 184-187.

2 There’s a Song in the Air hymn written by Josiah Holland, 1872.

Randy K'Meyer

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