Celebrating the incarnation of CHrist.
Whereas during Advent we anticipate the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, at Christmas we identify with the angels who proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest”; with the shepherds, who were afraid but nevertheless offered worship; and with Mary, who pondered the meaning of these events in her heart (Luke 2:13-20). Celebrating Christmas as a season helps us both to enter into the meaning of the incarnation more fully than celebrating a single day and to focus on additional Scripture texts that explore the meaning of Christmas beyond the familiar words of Luke 2.
Though North American culture considers Christmas the most important day of the Christian year, we must be careful to see the significance of Christmas in the light of all that follows, particularly Easter. In fact, Christmas is the first in a series of celebrations (Christmas, Epiphany, the baptism of our Lord, and the transfiguration of Jesus) that affirm the identity of Jesus as not only fully human but also fully divine. If the intervening weeks between these celebrations focus on the remarkable content of Jesus’ teaching and the relationships he established with his disciples, these four events anchor the church’s reflection on the meaning of Jesus’ life for our understanding of God and of the coming kingdom. Together, these celebrations prepare us for the journey toward the cross and the empty tomb.
From The Worship Sourcebook
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Word Became Flesh (John 1:14)
The Gift of Gifts—Prayer for Christmastide
from The Valley of Vision
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.
Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.
Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on
wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.
Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart
he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.
Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with no will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me
to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.
O God, take me in spirit to the watchful shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face,
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child
to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou hast given me so much
that heaven can give no more.
Prayer of Confession for Christmastide
from Every Season Prayers by Scotty Smith
Dear heavenly Father, with the angels, we shout loud praises over the birth of Jesus; with the shepherds, we respond with joy for the gift of a Savior; with Mary, we treasure and ponder this good news in our hearts. You have been faithful to fulfill ancient prophecies and Your covenant promises. Because of Jesus’ finished work, we now live in Your perpetual favor; and because of the Spirit’s ongoing work, we now humble ourselves before You.
We confess our sins to You: Forgive us for attitudes and actions that misrepresent You, contradict Your grace, and sabotage love. Forgive us for speaking words that brought harm and shame, and for withholding words that bring healing and hope. Forgive us for spending so much time and energy on ourselves and our trifles, and so little time with You and on the things that matter the most. We offer our prayer, humbly, in Jesus’ name. Amen.