Worship Helps for Christmas Day

Artwork: The Adoration of the Shepherds
Artist: Philippe de Champaigne

Worship Theme: Many people long for God to talk to them. How often we miss his message when we don’t listen to his Son Jesus. Jesus is God’s communication to us today. Too many run after other “voices” that pretend to offer solutions to life. But those who carry the message of Jesus to others are highly honored and share the exciting reaction from those who are led to real peace.

Old Testament: Isaiah 52:7-10
How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
    who bring good tidings,
    who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
    “Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
    together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
    they will see it with their own eyes.
Burst into songs of joy together,
    you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.
10 The Lord will lay bare his holy arm
    in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see
    the salvation of our God.

1. What makes feet beautiful?

2. What is that great message?

Epistle: Hebrews 1:1-9
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father”?
Or again,
“I will be his Father,
    and he will be my Son”?
And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
In speaking of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”
But about the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.”

3. How did God communicate to the world before Christ?

4. Why is it so much greater that he speaks to us through Jesus today?

Gospel: John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

5. What title is immediately given to Jesus and why?

6. What is the shame in this section?


Answers:
1. Feet become very beautiful when they are vehicles carrying the greatest message of all times to others–the gospel of Jesus.

2. It is a message of the victory and peace that God has established for us. It is the message of good tidings of great joy announced by the angels at Christ’s birth. That birth indicates a greater proof that our God reigns over everything.

3. God spoke to the people of the Old Testament times through prophets who carried that message in different formats in differing situations.

4. Jesus is the final word for us because as God himself he exactly and directly represents the mind of God to us. As the one who purified us with his life, death and resurrection he speaks utmost concern for us. And as the one who rules over all things he knows what great things he has in the future for us.

5. Jesus is called the Word (“Logos” in Greek). He is the one who clearly communicates to us the mind and plans of God. Without Christ you cannot really know God. That “Word” has power seen at the creating of the world. It also made his presence felt when he “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (Do you constantly listen to him?)

6. Jesus, the Word of God opens people’s eyes to see the love and eternal life that he came to give us. Unfortunately, many don’t recognize him and lose out on the right to be called God’s children and receive “one blessing after another.”


Putting your faith into action
When I think of beautiful parts of the body, I don’t think of feet. But these feet mentioned by the prophet aren’t beautiful because of their appearance; they are beautiful because of their purpose—bringing the Good News. God has blessed us with everything we are and everything we have. Some of these things may not seem especially beautiful to us until we acknowledge that they are undeserved gifts from our Heavenly Father. By the power of the Holy Spirit, our response should be to use everything, our humble possessions and homely qualities, as well as those that seem more attractive and presentable, to glorify our Creator and display to others the love of Jesus. His death on the cross was certainly not beautiful to see or experience, but it was beautiful because of its purpose—to redeem us from our sin.


A reading from the Book of Concord for Christmas Eve: The Nativity of Our Lord
PART I: THE AWE-INSPIRING ARTICLES ON THE DIVINE MAJESTY
1. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one divine essence and nature (Matthew 28:19), are one God, who has created heaven and earth (1 Corinthians 8:6). 2. The Father is begotten of no one; the Son is begotten of the Father (John 1:14); the Holy Spirit proceeds from Father and Son (John 15:26). 3. Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son became man (John 1:14). 4. The Son became man in this manner: He was conceived, without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:34-45), and was born of the pure, holy Virgin Mary. Afterward, He suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9-11), sits at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33), will come to judge the quick and the dead, and so on, as the Apostles' and Athanasian Creeds and our children's catechism teach. Concerning these articles, there is no argument or dispute. Both sides confess them. Therefore, it is not necessary now to discuss them further.

PART II: THE ARTICLES THAT REFER TO THE OFFICE AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST; THAT IS, OUR REDEMPTION ARTICLE I: THE CHIEF ARTICLE

The first and chief article IS THIS: 1] Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:24-25). 2] He alone is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), and God has laid upon Him the iniquities of us all (Isaiah 53:6). 3] All have sinned and are justified without freely, without their own works or merits, by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in His blood (Romans 3:23-25). 4] This is necessary to believe. This cannot be otherwise acquired or grasped by any work, law, or merit. Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us. As St. Paul says: For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law. (Romans 3:28)

That He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:26)

5] Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Mark 13:31).

For there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
And with His stripes we are healed, (Isaiah 53:5)

Upon this article everything that we teach and practice depends, in opposition to the pope, the devil, and the whole world. Therefore, we must be certain and not doubt this doctrine. Otherwise, all is lost, and the pope, the devil, and all adversaries win the victory and the right over us. (The Smalcald Articles: The Articles on the Divine Majesty & The Chief Article)

Hymns: 49; 67; 35; 62

35  Of the Father’sLove Begotten


1  Of the Father’s love begotten Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending he,
Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.

2  Oh, that birth forever blessed When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Savior of our race,
And the babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed his sacred face
Evermore and evermore.

3  This is he whom heav’n-taught singers Sang of old with one accord;
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets Promised in their faithful word.
Now he shines, the long-expected; Let creation praise its Lord
Evermore and evermore.

4  Let the heights of heav’n adore him, Angel hosts his praises sing,
Pow’rs, dominions bow before him And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent, Ev’ry voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.

5  Christ, to you, with God the Father, And the Spirit ceaselessly
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore.


Text: Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 348–c. 413, abr.; tr. John M. Neale, 1818–66, st. 1-4, alt.; Henry W. Baker, 1821–77, st. 5, alt.

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