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Silent Night! Holy Night!

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Silent night! Holy night! Son of God,  love's pure light Radiant beams from thy holy face  with the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
This powerful little carol has so worked its way into people's hearts all over the world that it isn't really Christmas unless you sing it at least once, preferably on Christmas Eve, preferably with the lights down low, children's faces lit only by the lights on the Christmas tree.
An Austrian village priest wrote these beautiful words in 1816, and a schoolteacher/organist quickly penned a simple tune to fit, although probably it was played for the first time on guitar in 1818.
Deep theology radiates from these simple words and pure pictures. The incarnation of Christ was not the actual blood-redemption, but it was the dawn. With the arrival of God's Son on earth, the long centuries of waiting were over and God's plans were in motion.
Possibly all was not so very calm nor bright 'round yon…

Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful

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Yea, Lord, we greet thee,  born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be all glory given, Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing. Oh, come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,"says St. John in the prologue to his gospel (1:1). And what a mighty Word he is! Words communicate important information. In person Jesus came to reveal the true God to mankind: a God who is kind, wise, omnipotent, and who loves people.
When Satan outs himself, when he and his demons take possession of a human being, they abuse and destroy. Jesus' humble presence in his little manger is a foretaste of his humility on the cross, the mighty work through which God's wrath was diverted from us onto himself, and through which God's favor was diverted from him onto us. By faith, all ye faithful, ye can experience this amazing swap--you give Christ all your sins and he gives you the Father's forgiveness.

What can we say …

What Child Is This?

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What Child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing. Haste, haste to bring him laud, the Babe, the Son of Mary!
If "Oh, Come, Emmanuel" is a plainchant from the Middle Ages, "What Child Is This?" is a romantic ballad from Renaissance England. The tune is lively enough in its triple time to dance to, and the content of William Dix's beautiful stanzas helps every singer figure out just what Christmas is all about. As fans of the New Orleans Saints would say, "Who dat?"
The Christmas miracle--God made man, omnipotence and weakness, vast reach and tiny fingers--is absolutely the most perfect example of God's upside-down way of getting his agenda accomplished. In the smallness of a baby, our God has come to earth. This tiny Child has come to our world to do nothing less than do battle with sin and Satan…

The Word became flesh

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John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. The wonder of Christmas is revealed for us in four simple words. We hear the words every Christmas Day: The Word became flesh. I think that often they go in one ear and out the other, for two reasons.  The first is precisely because we hear them so often. Our sinful flesh dismisses them as ordinary.  The second is that those words are so profound. They are anything but ordinary, for their depth overwhelms our comprehension. But for Christmas to have meaning, we must try to comprehend exactly what those four simple words — The Word became flesh —tell us: about our God, about the Scriptures, and about ourselves. What do these words tell us about God? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (John 1:1,2). Saint John takes us back to the first words of th…

Worship Helps for Christmas 1

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Artwork: Anno Domini Artist: Edwin Long Date: 1883
Worship Theme: God cares for his sons. He cared for his son, the nation of Israel—though they were rebellious. He cared for his Son, Jesus—though Herod raged against him. He even cares for his newly adopted sons—though we do not deserve it. God cared for us by sending his Son to deliver us from the corruption of sin and transform us into sons just like Jesus. That work of Christ gives us peace that only sons can have.
Old Testament:Hosea 11:1-7 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. 3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. 5 "Will they not return to Egypt and will not Assyria r…

Born to Save Us!

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Luke 2:1-20 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 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 room for them in the inn. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you …

Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel

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Immanuel Matthew 1:23 The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel. Sometimes people just don't know what they've got.  It was about 20 years ago, a very tired, elderly lady took a bus to her downtown Minneapolis insurance company. Overwhelmed by such a large office she stood for a long minute, and then, with hesitation, she approached the receptionist. Our lady was asked, "How may I help you?" Without saying a word, she handed over an old insurance policy she took from her purse. Then, with a lowered voice she explained she no longer had the resources to keep making payments on the policy. She said that anything she received was dedicated to keeping a roof over her head and some food in the fridge. She had just wanted to stop by and personally explain that while she was perfectly content with the policy, she just couldn't meet the payments any longer. Sympathetically, the receptionist directed the lady to someone who co…

Forgiven

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For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. - Isaiah 9:6
Christmas Eve at 5:00 pm Christmas Day at 9:00 am

Love at Christmas

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There is a lot of love at Christmas: The love of family all together around the Christmas tree.The love of parents watching their children’s faces as presents are opened.The love of a child holding a lit candle for the first time in a worship service.This Christmas, experience the love our heavenly Father has for His children. A love so deep that He would give His Son to the world to be born as a baby so He might become this world’s Savior. Experience this love with us at Epiphany this Christmas: Night of the Father’s Love on Tuesday, Dec 24 at 5:00 pm with our Epiphany Ensemble and Sunday School Children for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service A Savior is Born on Wednesday, Dec 25 at 9:00 am with our Epiphany Choir for our Christmas Day Worship

The Great O Antiphons and O, Come, O, Come, Emmanuel

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The Great O Antiphons of Advent have been cherished for centuries by Christian worshipers. Each one consists of a title given to Christ in the Old Testament and a petition asking him to come and fulfill the scriptural promise or prophecy.
The Great O Antiphons may be used in Advent in place of the Psalm or Song of Mary in Evening Prayer or in place of the Psalm in The Common Service, Service of Word and Sacrament, or Service of the Word.
The minister shall pray at the altar, and the congregation shall respond with the appropriate stanza. M:        O Emmanuel, our King and our Lord, the anointed of the nations and their Savior, come and save us, O Lord our God. C:         Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to you, O Israel!
M:        O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, pervading and permeating all creation, mightily order all things; come and teach us the…

The Royal Wedding - The Betrothal

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Maybe it was the budding beauty that he saw in her eyes, or maybe it was her smile.  Maybe he was impressed with how she carried herself as she did her daily chores.  She came from a good family lineage, that’s for sure.
Romance and courtship did not play a large role in marriage in ancient times.  In many cases, parents would choose a man for their young daughter.  But it doesn’t mean that a young couple were just thrown into a marriage.  Parents aren’t blind.  And sometimes they can figure out the hints and sly clues that their children give them.  And if they approve of a budding love affair?....
Did Joseph, a yong man probably in his 20's, have eyes for Mary, probably a young girl in her early teens?  We don’t know the details.
But what probably happened was this: Joseph asked his parents if he could marry his distant relative.  The parents probably considered her ancestry and her resources.  Since Nazareth wasn’t filled with wealth, the financial matters of marriage were probab…