Lord God we thank you for this night, a chance to worship you and reflect on your goodness with our sisters that we long to be with in person but are glad to be gathered with in this way. As we have just sing, we thank you that our Saviour reigns.
Thank you for carrying us faithfully through this strange year and for the chance to end this year with our eyes fixed on you and your glorious plan of salvation in Jesus. Things may feel stripped back this year but they are no more stripped back than your simple birth in a stable. May we use this quieter, barer Christmas to focus on what really matters – you.
Thank you Jesus for emptying yourself, laying aside your divine privileges and entering our world as a human to die our death on the cross. This really is joy to the world. You are the perfect expression of God’s faithfulness and love to us.
So wherever we are this Christmas; whoever we spend it with – or don’t get to spend it with – help us to remember how loved we are by you. We cannot doubt your love for a moment because you sent physical evidence of it into our world in Jesus. And therefore we can trust the wonderful truth that we are reconciled with you and we will be with you forever when we hail you are our King.
May our hearts make room for you this Christmas. More room than ever before. Because the glorious truth is that you are for life, not just for Christmas. You are our Saviour for always.
What wonderful readings and carols we have heard and sung tonight about the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, the Lord of heaven, born as a human being. We have heard about the activity that surrounded the first Christmas, the events that happened. We often get swept up with the activity of Christmas and so I would like to just share some thoughts with you to help us think about the meaning of Christmas and realign our focus to the amazing love and grace that God has showed to us.
Let’s Pray…..Heavenly Father, would you help us in our understanding of your word tonight. Would you help us to see and hear clearly and to come to know you a little more, in Jesus name, Amen.
If you have a bible handy, you might want to follow the reading. I’m going to read from 1John 1:1-4 (Look towards the end of NT nestled between 1&2 Peter and Jude.)
1 John 1:1-4 The Incarnation of the Word of Life
1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4We write this to make our joy complete.
Well, you might be thinking that isn’t very Christmassy, what’s happened to all the angels and Shepherds and the baby Jesus? What I’ve just shared with you tells us what the activity of Christmas means, it tells us of God’s plan of salvation which is the real meaning of Christmas.
1 John 1 starts with the words…. ‘That which was from the beginning’…..now where have we read that recently? Yes, for those of you who have been following our bible studies you will recognise those words from Genesis chapter 1. For those of you who know your bible well, you will know that those words ‘in the beginning’ also appear in the gospel of John ch 1
So, Jesus was already there in the beginning! He didn’t suddenly appear at Christmas. He has been with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit for all eternity. John gives testimony and validates the historic event of the birth of Jesus when he says ‘we saw Him with our eyes and touched Him with our hands’.
God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the same eternal God in human flesh. The only way that we can come to God or know God is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”(John 14:6)
Salvation by grace.
John talks about Jesus as the ‘Word’. He says the Word of Life was with the father from the beginning, and in v2 ‘The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us’. He isn’t saying Jesus has life or gives life, but that HE IS LIFE. Jesus is eternal life. Jesus is salvation and he offers it to me and to you, to those who accept and believe in Him. V3 then goes on to tell us that when we have received Eternal Life, in turn, that will lead us to a deepening and true fellowship with God and other believers.
The other day I was in the car half listening to the radio. They were chatting about the most talked about subject of the year Covid 19, how it’s been a depressing and difficult year etc and now Christmas was coming and how we must ‘save Christmas’ I thought to myself, Oh wow, they’ve got that the wrong way round. We can’t save Christmas, Christmas saved us! Christmas is the celebration of the incarnate God, sending Jesus to earth to save us, to rescue us from his wrath and judgement. That was his plan from the beginning.
Dear sisters, the chief reason we were created was to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, or to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever. Or to put it another way, the reason we were created was for the greatest glory of God in the greatest happiness of His people. And, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, your whole reason for being is to have a relationship with your Lord, The King of the Universe, the Creator of all things, your brother, friend, prophet and priest. To be in fellowship with Him. It is with God that your happiness is to be found this Christmas and beyond, in season and out-of-season, in good times and bad, when COVID is raging and when COVID is tamed. In life, in death – Jesus is our hope, our reason for being. That’s why we celebrate Christmas. God incarnate coming to earth, to carry out His eternal rescue mission for those who are perishing apart from Him. We celebrate Christmas because He came to save us.
For those who don’t know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, or for those who want to love Him more, why don’t you pray along with me now?
Heavenly Father, your word tells us that you have been there from the beginning, and your eternal plan was always to come to earth, to be born of the virgin Mary, to forgive our sins and to rescue us. Oh Lord, help us to recognise that Christmas time is to help us reflect on your life-saving message. That the God of all Glory and sovereign power, humbled Himself to come to earth and died on the cross so that our sins might be forgiven, and that we might be with you forever. Glory to God in the highest. Amen.
As we enter into the ‘activity’ of Christmas this year, can I leave you with something to ponder on…..will you save Christmas this year of will Chistmas save you?