Summary: Christmas Eve Candlelight service focusing on Jesus as the light of the world.
Note: Pat and Dana are the Pastors. Others reading Scripture are church members.
"Up! Good Christian Folk, and Listen!" - Ladies’ Trio
Welcome to Thornydale Family Church and our Christmas Eve Candlelight service. Tonight and tomorrow much of the world will join in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ which occurred over 2,000 years ago, but unfortunately many of those who take part in those observances will miss out on the full significance of that event. For some, the Christmas season is nothing more than a good excuse for partying and indulging. For others, it is merely a season to celebrate the goodness of mankind. Still others genuinely focus on celebrating the birth of baby Jesus without really recognizing the true significance of the event they commemorate. So tonight, we’ll hold on to many Christmas traditions as we remember once again the birth of Jesus. But we’ll also focus on what Paul Harvey might describe as “the rest of the story.”
Although we tend to lament the way that the world has commercialized the celebration of Christmas – even to the point that it is no longer acceptable to say “Merry Christmas” – we can still find the real meaning of the season if we look for it. For instance, one of the ways that almost everyone celebrates Christmas is by the use of lights. And light is certainly one of the themes surrounding Christmas that helps us to focus on the real significance of Christmas. In fact, Jesus even described Himself as light:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12 (NIV)
So it seems very appropriate for us to have a candlelight service tonight and to focus on the theme of light to remind us of the full significance of what we’re remembering together tonight.
Let’s begin our journey with Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus:
Steve the Elder:
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. 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. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 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.
Luke 2:1-7 (NIV)
"O Little Town of Bethlehem" (#200)
Let’s continue with Luke’s account:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Luke 2:1-12 (NIV)
"Away in a Manger" – 1st and 3rd stanzas (#213)
Let’s conclude Luke’s account:
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:13-20 (NIV)
"While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks" (#197)
While Luke recorded the physical events surrounding the birth of Jesus in his gospel, the account in the gospel of John describes the spiritual significance of Jesus, the light of the world, leaving the glory of heaven and coming to earth to dwell among the very men that He had created: