Worship Helps for Christmas 1

The Presentation in the Temple
Pieter Jozef Verhaghen
1767

Worship Theme: There are two great miracles in Christmas: the one that God has become man for us and for our salvation, and that he in grace reveals the first miracle even to me and blesses me with all its benefit.

Old Testament: Isaiah 45:20-25
"Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. 21 Declare what is to be, present it-- let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. 22 "Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. 23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. 24 They will say of me, 'In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.'" All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. 25 But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.

1. What key ability does the Lord have that idols do not have (verses 20–21)?

2. Why do all the ends of the earth need to turn to the Lord (verses 21–22)?

3. On the last day, what will all believers in the Lord be found? How will we feel (verse 25)?


Epistle: Colossians 3:12-17
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

4. What three key gospel truths motivate our new lives in Christ (verse 12)?

5. Where is the only place to find strength for our new life in Christ (verse 16)?


Gospel: Luke 2:25-40
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

6. What did God do for Simeon, compared to what God had promised Simeon (verses 25–28)?

7. What did Simeon hint at to Mary (verse 35)?

8. For what were Simeon and Anna waiting (verses 25, 38)? For what are you waiting?


Answers:
1. The Lord can predict the future, and has done so many times. Every time, he does so with perfect accuracy. Idols and those who follow them have no ability to predict the future.

2. All the ends of the earth need to turn to the Lord because he is the only God. He is the only Savior. He is righteous, so he must punish sinners, but in mercy the Father has punished his Son in our place.

3. All believers in the Lord will be found righteous, and will exult. To be found righteous means that on the last day God will judge us sinners right with him, for Jesus’ sake. This will make us exult. That is, we will be full of joy.

4. A) In Christ, we are God’s chosen people. In eternity, in pure grace, the Father picked us to be his own. B) In Christ, we are holy in God’s sight. Jesus’ holiness is credited to us, as if we have had only holy thoughts and actions all our lives. C) In Christ, we are dearly loved.

5. The only place to find strength for our new life in Christ is in God’s Word. (Let’s dig into it daily it to teach and warn each other! Let’s sing it gladly!)

6. God had promised Simeon that he would not die before he saw God’s Anointed Son. But God did better than he promised. He let Simeon hold his Savior!

7. He hinted that Jesus would suffer great pain, and Mary, without Joseph at her side, would see it. A sword would pierce her own soul, too.

8. They were waiting for the consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem— waiting for God to come and comfort his people by paying for their sins. We wait for Jesus to comfort and rescue us by coming again.


Putting your faith into action
As soon as Christmas is over, the Christmas joy seems to go with it. Vacations from school and work are over. It’s time to get back to “the grind.” Simeon and Anna give us excellent examples of Christmas joy that lasts a lifetime. Both of them had lived long and faithful lives. After seeing their Savior, both were ready for their Lord to call them to the eternal reward that this baby boy was going to win for them. Don’t get rid of Christmas with the dried-up tree. Instead, may the good news of a Savior from sin fill our lives all year round!


A reading from the Book of Concord for the First Sunday after Christmas
Controversy has arisen among some theologians of the Augsburg Confession about the righteousness of Christ or of faith, which God credits by grace, through faith, to poor sinners for righteousness.

One side contends that the righteousness of faith, which the apostle calls God’s righteousness, is God’s essential righteousness.  They say this is Christ Himself as God’s true, and essential Son, who dwells in the elect by faith and moves them to do right.  And so He is their righteousness. 
Against this, others have held and taught that Christ is our righteousness according to His human nature alone.

In opposition to both these groups it has been unanimously taught by the other teachers of the Augsburg Confession that Christ is our righteousness not according to His divine nature alone, nor according to His human nature alone, but according to both natures.  For He has redeemed, justified, and saved us from our sins as God and man, through His complete obedience.  The righteousness of faith is the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and our adoption as God’s children only on account of Christ’s obedience.  Christ’s obedience alone—out of pure grace—is credited for righteousness through faith alone to all true believers.  They are absolved from all their unrighteousness by this obedience. – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article III, The Righteousness of Faith (paragraphs 1-4)


Text of the Hymn of the Day: Let All Together Praise Our God
Let all together praise our God Before his highest throne;
Today he opens heav'n again And gives us his own Son,
And gives us his own Son.

He leaves his heav'nly Father's throne, Is born an infant small,
And in a manger, poor and lone, Lies in a humble stall,
Lies in a humble stall.

He veils in flesh his pow'r divine A servant's form to take;
In want and lowliness must die Who heav'n and earth did make,
Who heav'n and earth did make.

A wondrous change which he does make: He takes our flesh and blood,
And he conceals for sinners' sake His majesty as God,
His majesty as God.

He serves that I a lord may be -- A great exchange indeed!
Could Jesus' love do more for me To help me in my need?
To help me in my need?

For us he opens wide the door Of paradise today.
The angel guards the gate no more; To God our thanks we pay,

To God our thanks we pay.

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