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Sermon and Liturgy For Christmas 1 - Year B
A Service of Carols and Readings
"Homily: The Word Incarnate"


READING:  Various Christmas Readings
SERMON :  "The Word Incarnate"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-ch01se 350000


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                  (* = please stand)


MUSICAL PRELUDE


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP:
L        The Lord be with you.
P        And also with you.
L        In many and various ways God spoke of old to our ancestors
         through the prophets.
P        But in these last days God has spoken to us by a Son, 
         whom he appointed to be the heir of all things
         through whom he also created the world.
L        Light dawns for the righteous.
P        Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, 
         and give thanks to his holy name.
L        Loving Father, we thank you for giving unto us 
         your Son, Christ Jesus.  We gather here today in his name.
P        Gracious God, bless our worship.  
         Help us to hear again the story of Jesus' birth 
         and to receive from your hands 
         the message you want us to hear.  Amen.


* LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES


* HYMN: Go Tell It On The Mountain                        - VU 43


A READING FROM ISAIAH 9:2-7
         (NRSV)  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great
         light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-- on them
         light has shined. {3} You have multiplied the nation, you
         have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy
         at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. {4}
         For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their
         shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on
         the day of Midian. {5} For all the boots of the tramping
         warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned
         as fuel for the fire. {6} For a child has been born for us, a
         son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he
         is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
         Prince of Peace. {7} His authority shall grow continually,
         and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and
         his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and
         with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The
         zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

L  This is the word of the Lord.   
P  Thanks be to God.


RESPONSIVE READING: Micah 2:2-4
L        But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among
         the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who
         is to be ruler in Israel, whose orign is from of old, from
         ancient days.
P        He shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the
         Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.  And
         his people shall dwell securely, for then his greatness will
         reach to the ends of the earth.  He will be their peace.


A READING FROM MATTHEW 1:18-24
         (NRSV)  Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this
         way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but
         before they lived together, she was found to be with child
         from the Holy Spirit. {19} Her husband Joseph, being a
         righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace,
         planned to dismiss her quietly. {20} But just when he had
         resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in
         a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to
         take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is
         from the Holy Spirit. {21} She will bear a son, and you are
         to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their
         sins." {22} All this took place to fulfill what had been
         spoken by the Lord through the prophet: {23} "Look, the
         virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him
         Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." {24} When Joseph
         awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded
         him; he took her as his wife,

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ


* HYMN:  Gentle Mary Laid Her Child                     - Red 494
                                             

A READING FROM LUKE 2:1-14
        (NRSV)  In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus
         that all the world should be registered. {2} This was the
         first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor
         of Syria. {3} All went to their own towns to be registered.
         {4} Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to
         Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was
         descended from the house and family of David. {5} He went to
         be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was
         expecting a child. {6} While they were there, the time came
         for her to deliver her child. {7} And she gave birth to her
         firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him
         in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
         {8} In that region there were shepherds living in the fields,
         keeping watch over their flock by night. {9} Then an angel of
         the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone
         around them, and they were terrified. {10} But the angel said
         to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good
         news of great joy for all the people: {11} to you is born
         this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah,
         the Lord. {12} This will be a sign for you: you will find a
         child wrapped in bands of cloth 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 heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he
         favors!"

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ


* HYMN: Hark! The Harold Angels Sing                      - VU 48


A READING FROM LUKE 2:15-20
         (NRSV)  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
         the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to
         Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the
         Lord has made known to us." {16} So they went with haste and
         found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
         {17} When they saw this, they made known what had been told
         them about this child; {18} and all who heard it were amazed
         at what the shepherds told them. {19} But Mary treasured all
         these words and pondered them in her heart. {20} The
         shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they
         had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ


ANTHEM: "In The Beginning"


SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all stand
for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU
541) and Prayer of Dedication

         Loving Father, we thank you for the gifts you have given. 
         We thank you for all the blessings we have received.  Help
         us to always give glory unto your name and to love each
         other as you love us.  Hallow our gifts and our actions,
         through Jesus we ask it.  Amen.


* HYMN: All Poor Men and Humble                           - VU 68


A READING FROM JOHN 1:1-14
         (NRSV)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
         God, and the Word was God. {2} He was in the beginning with
         God. {3} All things came into being through him, and without
         him not one thing came into being. What has come into being
         {4} in him was life, and the life was the light of all
         people. {5} The light shines in the darkness, and the
         darkness did not overcome it. {6} There was a man sent from
         God, whose name was John. {7} He came as a witness to testify
         to the light, so that all might believe through him. {8} He
         himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the
         light. {9} The true light, which enlightens everyone, was
         coming into the world. {10} He was in the world, and the
         world came into being through him; yet the world did not know
         him. {11} He came to what was his own, and his own people did
         not accept him. {12} But to all who received him, who
         believed in his name, he gave power to become children of
         God, {13} who were born, not of blood or of the will of the
         flesh or of the will of man, but of God. {14} And the Word
         became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory,
         the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ


HOMILY: The Word Made Flesh

         Let us Pray:   Father  - bless the words of my lips and
         the meditations of our hearts - grow thou in us and show
         us your ways and inspire us to live by your truth.  Amen

The Christmas story can be summarized this way:

                   "The Word became flesh and
                    made his dwelling among us."

The Word became flesh,
     it took on human form,
          and lived among us,
             full of grace and truth.

Jesus is the incarnate word,
      he is the Word made flesh,
          the word of God,
             the word of love,
                 the word of truth and grace and beauty.

He is the one who is the love of God in human form.

Jesus is the human form of God's forgiveness,
      he is the human form of God's mercy,
          he is the human form of God's justice,
             of God's truth,
                 of God's love.

This is the Christmas story... the word became flesh and made his
dwelling among us.

God, so that he could help us, decided to walk among us
     and to live with us,
          as one of us - born of human parents,
             nurtured at a human breast,
                 and working at human tasks
                    until he died a human death.

God among us,
      God made flesh,
          God for us - in Jesus Christ.

What is remarkable about the Christmas story is not just that God
chose to place all his glory, all his beauty, and all his truth
in a human form, though that is remarkable enough -
- it is that he chose such a simple human being in which to take
on flesh.

God's word,
     the Word that was at the beginning of all things,
         and without which nothing was made that was made,
could have come upon a royal princess,
but it did not.

God's word - made flesh,
     could have taken on the form of a philosopher,
         wise and full of truth
         living in some imperial palace,
but it did not.

No - God's word, the word made flesh,
     was a simple word - a word made manifest, a word made visible
         in a simple human being,
         born to a simple peasant woman,
         and cared for by a simple carpenter in a land that time still
seems to have forgotten.

The Word made flesh,
     The Word of God,
          is found in its fullness in a babe who had to lay in
manager because there was no room for him at the inn.

The Word made flesh,
     the Word of God,
          is found in all its fullness in a child, who while
obedient to his parents, still argued with his teachers, and got
lost in the city at the time of his Bar Mitzvah.

The Word made flesh,
     the Word of God,
          is found in all its fullness, in a young man who wandered
the countryside, teaching the teachers, healing the sick, eating
with the sinners, and forgiving those who needed forgiving.

Jesus was the word of God in its fullness,
and yet, consider, it was a word that had no home to call its own,
it was a word that was denied, and betrayed, and finally killed 
in the hope that it would not be seen or heard again.

God's word took on flesh,
     and dwelt among us - 
        it lived among us 
             first within the body of a simple woman
             and then in the body of a simple man.
      and that word was both accepted, and rejected,
         but IN rejection, 
         and then later IN death,
it could not be destroyed.

This is the Christmas story,
     and it is a story that continues today,
          because the Word of God is an eternal word,
             it is a lasting word,
                 it is an undefeatable word.

Jesus - the word of God is still among us,
    He is here as spirit,
       teaching his followers that which they need to know,
         comforting his disciples with a comfort that they need,
           and leading them to the truth that they need to know.

And what is that truth we need to know?
Where is the word for us today?

It is in the same place that it was when Jesus walked among us,
     it is in the acts of love that his followers perform,
          it is in the mercy that his disciples give to others,
             it is in the truth that they utter,
                 the justice that they struggle for,
                    and in the forgiveness that they bestow.

God's word is still made flesh today,
much in the way that it was made flesh in Jesus.

God's word takes on flesh when a woman brings food to the
     sanctuary of the Lord to share with the poor,
         and when a man delivers groceries to the local food bank.

God's word becomes flesh in the actions of people like those
     inmates at Kingston Penitentiary who gave up their Christmas
         meal so that they could help feed the hungry,
             and when the owners of Rehoboth Home open their doors
                 to the lost and scared single mothers of our area.

The Word of God took on flesh in a unique and tremendous way in
Jesus of Nazareth,
and it takes on flesh today,
wherever the word is believed and done.

God's word wears human flesh,
     in those who follow the risen word,
          those who obey the risen Lord,
             and heed the living God.

And as it was in Jesus,
     where the word was found in a simple man,
          born to simple parents,
so the word today is found,
     found in flesh,
          in simple acts of love and kindness,
                        
The word takes on flesh in those who heal,
in those who forgive,
in those who seek justice,
in those who share,
and in those who show mercy.  Amen


LET US PRAY
Loving God, we thank you for your word, the word that became
flesh and dwelt among us.

We thank you for Jesus, born of Mary, who walked among us full of
grace and truth.

We thank you Lord that you chose to reveal yourself in him, in
his actions of compassion and love, in his tenderness and in his
anger, in his forgiveness and in his mercy.

We thank you Lord that your word was found not just in his flesh,
but also upon his lips, teaching us the way of life, and showing
us the road upon which we should travel.

We thank you too Lord for the word that you give us today, and
how it still takes on human flesh in the actions and the words of
those who love you and your Son Jesus.

Help us Lord to embody your word, to show forth the word of your
love in all that we do.

Make us a people who are like Jesus, a people who are filled with
your Spirit, and who walk in your ways.

Help us to love you, to love ourselves, and to love our
neighbours.

We ask it in Jesus' name saying together the prayer that he
taught us: OUR FATHER.....
          

* COMMISSIONING:  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go
         forth into the world to fulfil Your calling as the people of
         God, the body of Christ.


* BENEDICTION
Go in peace,
- And may God the Father bless you richly
- may His word take on flesh in you by the guidance of the Spirit,
- and may the love of Jesus Christ the Son shine forth from within you,
both now and forevermore.  Amen


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                    - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2005
             please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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