by Seattle ALC
Christmas is a time of worship. Our celebration of this sacred event is also to be one of worship.
God is to be worshipped; all His works are worthy of praise. The redemption story deserves our constant acclaim: it is His highest glory. In His unsearchable wisdom, He conceived this marvelous plan and, in His great grace, fulfilled its unique design by bringing it down to man. God is truly glorified when we experience the joy and peace of His redemptive work. He has then become the center of our Christmas and the object of our worship.
The basis of all true worship is faith. God gives this faith through the hearing of His Word. He also confirms, strengthens, and increases it by means of the same word. For that reason, we can say that an important part of the worship of God is the hearing of His Word. Let our gift to Him be that of praise for preserving His Word for our use today, and for giving us the opportunity again this year to celebrate Christmas by “worshipping Christ, the new-born King.”
On the holy night, which our Christmas celebration commemorates, the glory of the Lord shone down upon the shepherds as an angel spoke to them of the long-awaited fulfillment of the promised redemption. “Fear not”, they heard, “I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For un to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.” Then, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will toward men.”
In this way, God’s promise was fulfilled, and He was worshipped and praised by these angels of heaven as well as by the Bethlehem shepherds to whom they appeared. The shepherds worshipped Him by believing that the word spoken by the angel was a message from the Lord. They did not say “shall we go” but rather “let us now go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass which the Lord has made known unto us.” They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger. Having seen Jesus, “they made known abroad the saying that was told them concerning this child.”
The worship offered by these shepherds was a true worship. It was founded on the word which the Lord had spoken to them. They believed His message and came to embrace the Saviour. From the shepherds, we can learn a necessary lesson–that of believing and acting on what God says in His Word. Only then can we rightly observe Christmas.
We may follow the practices of our country and the traditions of our families and our ethnic backgrounds, we may participate in what is commonly called the “spirit of Christmas” by being charitable, we may attend church and join in the out ward part of the worship. But, the true celebration of Christmas is possible only when Christ lives in our hearts by faith, His Spirit assuring us that we are the children of God, saved by His redemptive power.
I do not mean to say, however, that Christmas traditions have no value. To the contrary, I have a treasure of special memories from childhood and youth. But the most outstanding memory of Christ mas in my parents’ home is the emphasis on the true celebration of the Lord’s birth which my siblings and I learned there. As my wife and I have reared our children, this heritage has guided our celebrations. And now as I move through the seventh decade of my life, I thank God more than ever for this teaching which always set Christmas far above the commercial aspects which have tarnished its meaning for so many.
Among the significant parts of this heritage is the gift of meaningful old Advent and Christmas hymns and songs which linger in memory, and speak messages of glorious joy and undimmed hope to my soul, reminding me of the wonder and great import of the redemption story.
I conclude this message with one such hymn which I prayerfully dedicate to anyone reading these words who has not yet become a partaker of the true and lasting gift of Christmas–the gift of eternal life which Jesus brought to earth from heaven. My friend, hear these words:
"Now Jesus at the door is knocking! Hark, how He pleads our souls to win! Who hears His voice, the door unlocking, To sup with him, He enters in! How blest the day, my soul, host blest! When Jesus comes to be thy guest!" "Behold, He at the door is calling, 0 heed, my soul, what He doth say; Deny Him not, 0 thought appalling, And turn Him not from thee away. My soul gives answer deep within: Thou blessed of the Lord, come in!" "Come Thou who spreadest joy and gladness, Forever abide with me and mine, And bring to those who sit in sadness And gloom of death Thy light divine; A voice comes from my soul within: "Thou blessed of the Lord, come in!" by Magus Brostrup Landstad- 1863
ADVENT SERVICES, Wednesday evenings at 7:30.
Each Wednesday evening during Advent, we have the opportunity to participate in a time of fellow ship devoted to the singing of the hymns and songs of Christmas. This season, which begins a new chur h year, is intended to help us prepare for our annual celebration of the Lord’s birth. It also reminds us of His promised second coming regarding which Jesus said: “BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY AND MY REWARD IS WITH ME TO GIVE EVERY MAN ACCORDING AS HIS WORK SHALL BE.” (Rev. 22: 12)
A WORD OF APPRECIATION:
As we come to the end of another year, I take this opportunity to thank all of you in the congregation for your faithfulness in the Lord’s work I appreciate your unqualified support whether the ministry is here in our own area, in other parts of our country, in Canada, or in Latvia. I know that you are making sacrifices to carry on this work. The friends in Latvia are thankful for.the part you have played in making my three trips to their country possible. Prayerfully, I ask the Lord to bless all of you this Christmas, and to prosper your way in the new year.
REFLECTION AND ANTICIPATION:
The ending of one year and the beginning of another present opportunities for reflection and anticipation. When used properly, both of these can be healthy experiences.
In reflection, we look back upon the days in which we have followed the leading of the Lord and thank Him again for His guidance> protection and blessings. But this kind of reflection also re minds us many times of those days when we have needed God’s forgiveness because we have chosen our own way instead of His way. It is then that reflection can join hands with anticipation, enabling us to look forward to the coming year with prayer that we will have learned from the past and chart our future course through whatever days the Lord gives us by remembering to seek His will and leading, prefacing our plans with the words of Scripture: “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
The most important concern for each one of us in the fellowship remains the spreading of the gospel. May He help us to live in such a way that our focus not on the things which are seen, because they are temporal; but upon the things which are not seen, because they are eternal.
From the archives of the late Pastor Alvin Holmgren- December 1993
Submitted by Pastor Stan
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