6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night… 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2.6-12)
Most likely we’ve already received a couple of Christmas cards this year with this scene of baby Jesus in a manger. As we look into the face of the newborn sleeping, there’s a sense of peace and calm… as if nothing is wrong with the world. How could we disturb this idyllic setting by talking about the cross and death… especially the death of this divine child! This is exactly what the author does as he repeats a seemingly insignificant description of the infant Jesus being “wrapped in cloths.” Years later, Jesus’ body would once again be wrapped in cloths… as he’s taken down from the cross and laid in the tomb (cf. Luke 23.52-53).
Prayer: Lord, we bow down before you. There is no other response. You are holy! In Jesus’ name, amen.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9.6)
“Jesus is a divine person with a human nature, and in that sense he is different from us, but human persons can relate to the divine because personhood has a relational aspect that is common to us both. As a person, Jesus can take our place and represent us before the judgment seat of his Father. Being divine, he has access to the other persons of the Godhead in a way that we do not. That is why he can be our mediator and reconcile us to God in the way that the Father intended when he sent his Son into the world. Perhaps most important of all, it helps us to understand what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus that God sent his Son to us out of his deep love for ‘the world.’ This is not an abstract statement about something nebulous called the ‘world,’ but a clear affirmation that God loves those whom he has created in his image and likeness, and that it was out of his love for them that he sent his Son.” (G. Bray, God Is Love, p. 569)
Prayer: Lord, we want to know you. Help us in our weakness. Open up our minds to be able to receive the revelation of who you are in the Scriptures. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Light of the World (Here I Am to Worship)” (Tim Hughes). Click here
28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2:28-32)
“Much of what is taught and celebrated in church life today—creation, incarnation, spirituality—is not always anchored in the preaching of Christ crucified (I Cor. 1:23). We have noted that this can result in a triumphalist form of congregational life that is disconnected from pain, deprivation, and the dehumanization that Jesus suffered. […] The cross can never be merely assumed but must always be interpreted and re-placed at the center. There is a centrifugal force at work in human nature; we want to spin out and away from the offense of the cross. A current tendency is to interpret the incarnation to mean embracing the world just as it is, because the Son of God hallowed the world by becoming flesh—incarnatus est. This, however, can easily become a sentimental evasion of the tension between the world as it is and the world as it ought to be—the life of the world to come, the world that God is going to bring[…]” (F. Rutledge, The Crucifixion, p. 120)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you were born into our world in order to deliver us from sin and death. From the manger to the cross… Lord, we stand amazed. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Jesus, Only Jesus” (Matt Redman). Click here
31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. […] 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31.31, 33)
“[S]ix centuries before Jesus, the prophet Jeremiah reports that God will make a new covenant with his people […] That means the covenant already in force, the covenant established at Sinai, has become the old covenant. If the Sinai covenant has been declared old, in some sense or other it is becoming obsolete, as it will be replaced by the new covenant. People steeped in such Scriptures could not help but wonder when this new covenant would dawn[…] But we can imagine the excitement, confusion, uncertainty, and hope when, on the very night Jesus was betrayed and went to the cross, he took a cup of wine during the meal he was having with his most intimate followers, and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’ (Luke 22:20).” (D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There, p. 105)
Prayer: Lord, may we be filled with wonder and excitement as we realize how far you have come to reach us, to reveal who you are to us, to draw near to us. Thank you for your far-reaching mercy and grace! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “O Come Let Us Adore Him” (Maverick City/TRIBL). Click here
Let’s read aloud together the following passage, confession and prayer:
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. (Luke 1.76-79 NIV)
“I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father in eternity, and also a true human being, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned human being. He has purchased and freed me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy, precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death. He has done all this in order that I may belong to him, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as he is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true.” (M. Luther, Small Catechism)
Prayer: Father in heaven, you sent your only Son into the world to die for our sins and raise us to new life. This is why we celebrate Christmas! Joy to the World! The Lord has come! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing “Joy to the World/Joy of the Lord” (Maverick City/TRIBL). Click here