Sunday 24th December 7pm Christmas Eve Worship
Featuring Christmas Eve Workshop Kids & Rach Humphries
Bible Reading: Matthew 1:18-23
Preacher: Phil Swain
What can I say team … I think that is MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
For the rest of you who don’t get that reference, at the beginning of the Christmas Eve Workshop we were given a mission – to understand THE PLAN – the great plan which can found in God’s story the Bible and how THE PLAN connects to Christmas and to us. That mission was updated to being able to come on stage tonight and present the plan to all of you. And I think that kids did that super awesomely. So … well done! Mission Accomplished.
Can we give them another round of applause?
In response to your wonderful story telling – I want to share a short with you and with all of us gathered here. And this is a LOVE story. Can I share a love story with you?
Once upon a time, in a far away land, there lived a young king. He was kind and fair and very, very rich and he was known throughout the world as a good King. But he was unhappy, because he desired a wife. Without a queen, the vast palace was empty.
One day, while riding through the village, he heard laughter. Hoping off his horse, he peeked around behind the house and saw a young, unmarried peasant woman. Her laugh, her personality, her smile … this peasant girl won the kings heart. But instead of going to this girl, the king got back on his horse and went home.
You see, he so much desired this woman to be his wife, but he needed to think of how he was going to win the love of this young woman. He needed to come up with A PLAN.
PLAN A – He could draw up a royal decree and require her to be brought before me to become the queen of my land. But as he considered this, he realised that because she had to obey, he could never be certain that he had won her love.
PLAN B – Maybe, I shall arrive at her home dressed in my finest robes, my diamond rings, my silver sword, all my finery … then I will overwhelm her and sweep her off her feet. But as he thought about it, he realised that he would always wonder if she married him for his money, or power, or intimation … rather than for his love. No, that would not work.
How could he be sure that if she decided to love him back that the love was genuine, that is was her decision, that it was real love? He knew it. He worked out the perfect PLAN!!!! He would dress as a peasant, and go and live in the village and see if as she got to know him, to see if she might like him.
It was the perfect plan, but it came with risks!!!! What happened if she didn’t even notice him? Not to like him? Never mind, the plan was worth the risks.
He put THE PLAN into action!!! He took of his royal robes, his fine clothes, even his royal underwear. He took of his golden crown and put on the clothes of a poor village peasant. Then he travelled down from his glorious castle, went into the village and lived there. He became a peasant.
He lived where the peasants lived. He worked with them, talked with them, he ate dinner with them, he lived like them.
And sure enough, as his beloved got to know him, spent time with him … yes … they fell in love.
Isn’t that what Christmas is about!
When it comes to God – it is all about love. God created the world, created us out of love. God’s heart just longs for us to be in relationship with him.
But God doesn’t want our love for him to be forced. Even though God could have made us love him – gave us no choice but to love him – but he wanted our love to be real.
God could have showed us his power, provided all the proof we needed to know that God was real and that God loved us – showed himself in all his glory so that we would be awestuck … but again, that is not the way that love works. God wanted us to think, to weigh up things to respond genuinely to his love – to love him genuinely.
And so at Christmas time we celebrate the amazing act that God came up with the most unbelievable PLAN – but this plan was perfect but also came with risks. God became human to show, and came to live with us just how much he loves us.
Jesus was born like us, lived like us, taught us about God and ultimately died on a cross so that we could be set free and be part of God’s family.
John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world that he sent his son Jesus … and if we respond and believe … we will find love and life … an awesome, fulfilling, meaningful, everlasting life.
How do we respond? God is declaring his love for us at Christmas. Do we believe? Do we accept it and love God back?
Sometimes it is hard to believe. Maybe some of are thinking “Why would God love me? If God really knew me, knew what I was really like – then there is no way that God would love me.” Others might be thinking “I’m too busy to believe. Wait until my life settles down and then I might think about it.” Or maybe we struggle to believe that God could love us because of the things that other people have said to us or about it … or what we have said about ourselves. We feel that we are a nobody … and this can cause a barrier which stops us feeling loved by God.
About a month ago I was told about this great song by Lauren Daigle. In the song she sing about how she is struggling to feel loved, to feel like she is someone who is worth something. That other voices have told her things about herself that make her doubt.
But she also hears God speaking over her – singing over her – telling her she is loved, that she is worth everything. So makes the conscious decision to put aside her feelings and choose to listen to the voice of God – to believe that God does indeed love her.
I have asked Rach – one of the young adults from our church – to come and sing the songs and some of the other young people from our church will accompany her with dance.
Lauren Daigle – You say
I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, (ooh oh)
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory,
Oh I believe (I), yes I believe (I)
What You say of me (I)
Oh I believe (oh)
WOW. That is so true. All we need to do it to believe when God declares his love for us.
Earlier in the service we sang the great Christmas hymn – O Holy Night. Have a look at these amazing lyrics again…
O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.
At Christmas – when we realise that Jesus came because we are loved by God … yes … we realise that we are loved. Our soul feels its worth.
So what is our response?
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine – Oh night when Christ was born
Tonight I ask you, please hear the good news of Christmas. That God loved the world so much – That God loves you so much – that he took on human flesh, and came to be with us, to live with us, to woo us, to give us life and to invite us to love God back.
All we need to do is to believe. Believe in this love that Jesus is offering. Accept this love into our lives.