I wanted the opportunity to share message from our Candlelight Christmas Eve service at H2O Church Orlando. We expected just a handful and almost didn’t have candles for Candlelight Christmas Eve service, but we powered through with 135 people and a phenomenally moving candlelight service that was a great way to celebrate Christmas and the birth of our Savior which is the beginning of God’s Redemption Story.
Here are the notes for my message. I hope you enjoy it.
This time of year we are bombarded with messages from culture to be self-centered and focused on ourselves. We get wrapped up in getting presents, having the biggest present to open, getting the most present, having the most money spent on us. It seems we have made Christmas all about presents and us. Sometimes it feels like we should change the name to Elimas or Stevemas or Sammas, or Jaymas.
That is exactly the opposite of what this time of year is about.
Today and tomorrow we are commemorating when God entered into human history as a baby, born of virgin, in stable in a small backwater town in a far away country.
We call the event the INCARNATION. Its a fancy theological term that means the embodiment of God walked this earth.
I’d like to share a few things others have said about the incarnation, about God coming to earth this baby boy Jesus:
He became what we are that he might make us what he is.
God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.
The mystery of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding.
The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.
As far as the Incarnation is concerned, I believe firmly in it. I believe that God did lean down to become Man in order that we could reach up to Him, and that the drama which embodies that Incarnation, the drama described in the Creed, took place.
Nowhere is salvation conceived of as a flight from history as in Greek thought; it is always the coming of God to man in history. Man does not ascend to God; God descends to man.
George Eldon Ladd
Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.
The Incarnation is the medicine of the soul, undoing the Fall and bringing man to the Tree of Life, and the job of the church is to administer this medicine.
“… without the incarnation, Christianity isn’t even a very good story, and most sadly, it means nothing. “Be nice to one another” is not a message that can give my life meaning, assure me of love beyond brokenness, and break open the dark doors of death with the key of hope. The incarnation is an essential part of Jesus-shaped spirituality.”
Michael Spencer, Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality
God came to live among his creation in a way that no one expected. Those who were looking for the Messiah were looking for a political figure to come and save them… what they, what we got was God himself coming to live a life just like us, to be like us, so that he could die for us.
Hayden asked us this week why we get presents on Christmas and Noah quickly answered it was because the wise men brought gifts to Jesus. I said that was part of it, but the main reason was to celebrate the best gift ever given. They asked what that was. I said it was Jesus. I explained that Christmas is about Jesus, when God sent his son to live with us. I asked if they knew why he did that. Noah said, so that he could die for our sins.
The events we celebrate today are the beginning of God’s redemption plan.
We prayed and began to light our candles. As we lit the candles I read the following Scriptures:
Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Revelation 21:1-6 – 1 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”t for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’t or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.