In the sermon text for this Lord’s Day, Luke tells the story of the birth of Jesus. He tells is briefly and without fanfare. The Lord Jesus came into the world in a humble estate. Even so, we see the hand of God at work in the simple details.
We will find Jesus’ humble beginnings described throughout the hymns chosen for this service. However, the opening anthem, mistakenly labeled a Christmas carol, reminds us of the ultimate outcome of the birth of Jesus—an outcome realized with he comes again in glory.
PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
Call to Worship Isaiah 9:2-3
Hymn 92 Joy to the World!
Notes: Isaac Watts’ famous hymn, commonly used as a Christmas carol, expresses the joy that the world will experience when Jesus returns. His first coming was humble. He came to save us from our sins that we might be reconciled with God. At his second coming, he will restore the creation and will rule with “truth and grace.”
Worship through Giving
Response: Insert In the Bleak Midwinter
Notes: Christiana Rossetti (1830-1894) left the church a wealth of hymns and poetry known for a combination of simplicity and rich depth. You can read about her and this song here. She intended her description of the “bleak midwinter” as a metaphor for the world’s condition. Into this dark place, “the Lord God Almighty,” though worshiped by angels, condescended to come. Since “God Himself became a man—born to pay sin’s price,” we sing with her, “What can I give Him: Give Him all my heart.
Hymn 94 O Little Town of Bethlehem
Note: Famed 19th century preacher, Phillips Brooks, wrote this Christmas hymn for the children of his church in 1868. It was inspired by his memories of a visit he paid to Bethlehem three years earlier. We find the theme of “light” in the first verse: In contrast to the dark night (a metaphor for the world’s condition), “in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light.” We will sing it to Ralph Vaugh Williams beautiful arrangement of the tune, Forest Green.
Scripture Reading Micah 4:1-5:5a
Notes: The Prophet Micah anticipated a day when God would regather his people Israel after centuries of willful rebellion against their God. On that day, he will give her a mighty King who shall deliver her from her enemies and be her loving Shepherd. In 5:2, he predicted that this King will be born in Bethlehem—a prediction fulfilled with the birth of Jesus.
Hymn 91 Once in Royal David’s City
Notes: Mary’s child born in Bethlehem so long ago was no ordinary baby. “He came down to earth from heaven Who is God and Lord of all.” He was the long-expected Messiah. This hymn reminds us of his condescension to the humblest of circumstances.
Message The King’s Heart in the Lord’s Hand
Pastor Steven Thomas
Hymn 120 Who Is He in Yonder Stall?
Notes: This Christmas hymn provides one of the most detailed accounts of the life of Jesus, “O wondrous story!” It calls us to humbly fall at his feet and “Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!”
Prayer Response Mark Williams
Benediction John Miles