God of darkness and silence, you have pierced the quiet of this night by the utterance of your Word in our flesh. May your word of compassion and reconciliation resound in us and through us.
In this holy night angels proclaimed the peace of your unconquered Sun of righteousness. Strengthen all who work for peace and justice.
In this holy night you came to us in a child cradled in a borrowed bed of straw as there was no room in the inn. Open our hearts to the needs of the homeless and the hungry.
In this holy night shepherds and outcasts heard your good news. Give us grace to spread your gospel of joy and liberation.
In this holy night we rejoice at the coming of this time of re-creation. Be with those who travel, enrich our rejoicing, and strengthen the bonds between us.
In this holy night Christians throughout the world are celebrating Christ’s birth. Unite us in one family that we may shine with the one light that scatters all our darkness.
In this holy night your living Word leaped down, shedding light on all who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Give strength and peace to all who suffer in body, mind, or spirit.
In this holy night heaven and earth embrace and in your true child you give us power to be your children. Fulfill in your love all who have gone before us in the faith. May we, like them, remain faithful to the mystery of the Word made flesh and live in your eternal light.
Hear these prayers we bring to you and fulfill your purposes in us in the name of Jesus, your incarnate Word. Amen. (Unknown Author)
The Church does not superstitiously observe days, merely as days, but as memorials of important facts. Christmas might be kept as well upon one day of the year as another; but there should be a stated day for commemorating the birth of our Savior, because there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.
The star of Bethlehem was a star of hope that led the wise men to the fulfillment of their expectations, the success of their expedition. Nothing in this world is more fundamental for success in life than hope, and this star pointed to our only source for true hope: Jesus Christ. (Christmas Stories for the Heart)
[Worship] then is the supreme attitude of Christmas. This is the spirit of Christmas and it is the supreme time of worship for Christians as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. This time of all times is a time of worship. Worship…let me give you a brief definition…is an attitude. It is a spirit, something on the inside. It is an attitude of the heart that is so filled with wonder and gratitude at what God has done that there is not a thought of personal needs or personal blessings, only total abandonment to God in praise and adoration. That’s worship. It is the most selfless thing we do. It is, as the hymn writer puts it, to be lost in wonder, love and praise. It is to be so grateful and so filled with wonder at what the Lord has done that we lose ourselves in adoring worship, adoring praise. What better time for this than Christmas when we focus on the very giving of Christ who is our Savior. . . .
This thing is deep. Worship comes up from inside. It bubbles up and bubbles over, as one New Testament word would identify it. It is not coming to church. It is not singing a hymn alone. It is not reading words in a Bible, hearing a sermon. It is not just giving something in the offering. It is not carrying out a ritual, even the Lord’s table. Those are potential, of course, effects of a worshiping heart, but they cannot stand alone as true worship. It is the inner heart of adoring praise that is the essence of true worship. It is when the soul and the spirit are overwhelmed. It is an internal thing.
In fact, external, shallow observance of the birth of Christ is distasteful to God and most of what goes on at the Christmas season breaks His heart. Superficial worship finds no place of acceptance with Him.
For example, Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 29:13 said, “This people draw near me with their mouth and with their lips.” If I can put it in the Christmas vernacular, they talk about Me, they put things about Me on their Christmas cards and they sing My carols but they do not honor Me. They have removed their heart from Me, Isaiah 29:13. There’s no heart.
Jesus said, “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must start by worshiping Him in spirit.” The true worshiper is the one whose heart is devoted, the one whose heart is overflowing. It comes from deep down inside and it therefore goes on all the time. . . .
If worship for you only happens on a Sunday morning when it sort of gets pumped up, or only happens around the Christmas season or other special events, you’re kidding yourself about whether you’re a true worshiper. If worship only happens when things are going well in your life and you can whistle a tune because you got what you wanted, or because you’re happy about the current events in your life, or because your measure of comfort has been met, if worship is connected to that then you don’t understand the real stuff because true worship is unaffected by fluctuating circumstances. It doesn’t rise and it doesn’t fall. It is the constant praise that comes from deep within the soul because that which is spiritually true is unchanging…unchanging.
It doesn’t matter what goes on in life. And when you begin to ebb and flow in your attitude and your demeanor and your joy comes and goes, it is because you have attached yourself to another priority than the unchanging work of God and the unchanging presence of Christ. You have attached your joy to the changing circumstances of life which means your focus isn’t on Him, your focus is on you. You can tell a true worshiper because they go through the circumstances of life with an unmitigated contentment and an unchanging joy. . . .
Charles Wesley wrote six thousand hymns. Maybe the best you heard played this morning, “Hark the herald angels sing.” The last verse, “Hail the heaven born Prince of Peace, hail the Son of righteousness,” that means worship. “Light and life to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings, mild He lays His glory by,” that’s the incarnation, “born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.” That’s worship. (Sermon, “The True Spirit of Christmas”)
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. (Luke 2:8-18)