Today is Christmas Eve. I thought to give you a gift today of the story of Christ in some measure. The following is a narration that I did in our church many years ago with members of our congregation. It included Christmas Carols and a telling of the story of Christ. My gift to you today is THE STORY.
SONG – O Come all Ye Faithful
John the Beloved – My name is John. I was a disciple of Jesus. I loved Him …still do! More than that, He loved me, and still does. I spent years knowing Him as a man, but I have spent centuries knowing Him as the King of kings – the Lord of lords!
I was on the island of Patmos, having been taken there because of my witness of Him. There I had an encounter with the Living One and saw visions of the mystery of this Holy One. He, the first and last, the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega of all things. I saw the mystery: … I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out in the pain of labor as she awaited her delivery. Suddenly, I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail dragged down one-third of the stars, which he threw to the earth. He stood before the woman as she was about to give birth to her child, ready to devour the baby as soon as it was born. She gave birth to a boy who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And the child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to give her care for 1,260 days. Then there was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle and was forced out of heaven. This great dragon-the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world-was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has happened at last-the salvation and power and kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ! For the Accuser has been thrown down to earth-the one who accused our brothers and sisters before our God day and night.
The prophet Isaiah- My name is Isaiah. I was a prophet to the house of Israel. I spoke of this amazing child some 740 years prior to his birth. I didn’t understand fully what the Spirit of God stirred me to say, but I prophesied God’s miracle gift of love. God’s Spirit came upon me and I declared: The Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel- ‘God is with us.’ By the time this child is old enough to eat curds and honey, he will know enough to choose what is right and reject what is wrong.
The Spirit of God welled up within my heart and I continued to proclaim this hope of the world! The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation and increased its joy; they rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For You have broken the yoke of his burden and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle, and garments rolled in blood, will be used for burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
The prophet Micah (Micha 5:2) –My name is Micah. I was a prophet at a time when not many were seeking to love God or serve Him with their hearts. My message was one of judgment and rebuke to God’s people, but in the midst of my proclamations, God broke through with a sound of hope. Some seven hundred years before the day, God’s Spirit stirred me to proclaim to Bethlehem:
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from old, from everlasting.
SONG – O Little Town of Bethlehem
Mary: Taken from Luke chapters 1 & 2 – My name is Mary. I remember …. It was both wonderful and terrifying! I had become engaged to Joseph, the carpenter, …… when God visited me through His angel Gabriel. I was young, I was innocent, I was waiting for my wedding day. I had faithfully kept myself pure for my betrothal to Joseph. Then the angel came – and changed our lives forever! Gabriel, the angel, appeared to me and said: “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
I was frightened, I was confused and disturbed, and I tried to think what the angel could mean.
He said to me,“Don’t be frightened, Mary, for God has decided to bless you! You will become pregnant and have a son, and you are to name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
I asked the angel, “But how can I have a baby? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the baby born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s already in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
I responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true.” And then the angel left.
Elizabeth: I can testify that it’s true. I’m Mary’s flesh and blood, I’m Elizabeth. A few days after the angel had visited Mary, she came in haste to the hill country of Judea, to my city and my house. I was pregnant at the time, expecting my son John. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, my child leaped within me, and I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t help myself! I gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “You are blessed by God above all other women, and your child is blessed. What an honor this is, that the mother of my Lord should visit me! When you came in and greeted me, my baby jumped for joy the instant I heard your voice! You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
Mary: Yes! It’s true! I responded, “Oh, how I praise the Lord. How I rejoice in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and now generation after generation will call me blessed. For he, the Mighty One, is holy, and he has done great things for me. His mercy goes on from generation to generation, to all who fear him. His mighty arm does tremendous things! How he scatters the proud and haughty ones! He has taken princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. And how he has helped his servant Israel! He has not forgotten his promise to be merciful. For he promised our ancestors- Abraham and his children-to be merciful to them forever.”
SONG – Silent Night
Zechariah – I am the high priest, Zechariah. The angel of the Lord visited my house. My wife Elizabeth had been barren for many years. We had hoped for a child, but we had not been blessed in such a way, but then the angel came. Then, to my own disbelief, the miracle happened. We were old, but God blessed us with our son, the prophet John. I remember the day he was born. I was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy: “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited his people and redeemed them. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, `just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant with them, the covenant he gave to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies, so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness forever. “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Joseph – The events happened so quickly. My name is Joseph, I was carpenter in my father’s house. Life seemed normal with a bright and promising future. Then it happened! What a potential scandal! My fiancé, Mary, had shared with me of a visit from the angel Gabriel. She said she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit of God. I couldn’t believe it, but God visited me in a dream and told me it was all true. I had to be committed to see it through, no matter what.
It was in that year that the Roman emperor, Augustus Caesar, had decreed a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. Everyone had to return to their own town to register for this census. And because I was a descendant of King David, I had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. I traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. I took with me Mary, my fiancé, who was obviously pregnant by this time. And while we were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for us in the village inn.
SONG – Away in a Manger
Shepherd 1 – Wow! We were simply in the fields tending our flocks. We were just outside the village, guarding our flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among us, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded us. We were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured us.
Angel 1 – “Don’t be afraid!” “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior- yes, the Messiah, the Lord-has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!”
Shepherd 1 – (Then the skies were filled! The angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God:
Angels in unison – “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
SONG – Angels We Have Heard on High
Shepherd 2 – When the angels had returned to heaven, we said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Shepherd 3 –We ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. We told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to us about this child. All who heard our story were astonished. We couldn’t stop rejoicing. We went back to our fields and flocks, glorifying and praising God for what the angels had told us, and because we had actually seen the child, just as the angel had said.
SONG – It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
Joseph –Eight days after His birth and the visit from the shepherds, we took our baby to Jerusalem to be circumcised. We had named Him Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived. When it was time for the purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; we were in temple of Jerusalem, presenting Him to the Lord. He was a firstborn son, so we were dedicating Him to the Lord as was required by Moses’ law. We offered a sacrifice according to what was required in the law of the Lord.
Simeon – My name is Simeon. Why should an old man like me experience such a thing? I had lived in Jerusalem all my life. I sought to be a righteous man and was committed to be devoted to my God. I was in the temple, when they brought the Child in!. I had been daily abiding with the Holy Spirit and I was eagerly expecting the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit had revealed to me that I would not die until I had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led me to the Temple. So, when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, I was there. I took the child in my arms and praised God, saying, “Lord, now I can die in peace! As you promised me, I have seen the Savior you have given to all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”
From Matthew chapter 2
Wise Man 1- We are kings from the East. All of our lives we have searched to know truth and the answers for the way of things. We are royal astrologers and we have sought wisdom in the stars. All seemed as usual, until a star of royalty appeared in the sky before us. We knew it to be the sign of a king in Judea. We traveled long and far to Jerusalem in the region of King Herod and inquired: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose in the east and we have come to worship him.” Herod was deeply disturbed by our question, as seemed all we inquired of in Jerusalem. We know now that Herod was concerned of our inquiry.
SONG – We Three Kings
Herod – Ah, Rome! The kingdom of kingdoms. I lived in its glory days. Tribute was paid to me! It was a day to be alive! Then, those kings of the Orient came. They asked of a new born king! I immediately called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law. I asked them, “Where did the prophets say the Messiah would be born?” “In Bethlehem,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘O Bethlehem of Judah, you are not just a lowly village in Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ” At this news, I sent a private message to those wise men, asking them to come see me. At this meeting I learned the exact time when they first saw the star. I told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”, but this was not my intention at all.
Wise Man 2 – King Herod met with us and told us the child was to be born in the city of Bethlehem. We left Jerusalem and once again the star appeared to us, guiding us to Bethlehem. It went ahead of us and stopped over the place where the child was.
Wise Man 3 – When we saw the star, we were filled with joy! We entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and we fell down before him and worshiped him. We opened our treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Wise Man 1 – When it was time to leave, we went home another way, because God had warned us in a dream not to return to Herod.
SONG – Hark the Herald Angels Sing
SONG – O Holy Night
Taken from John chapters 1 & 3
By John the Beloved –In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn’t make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
God sent John the Baptist to tell everyone about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was only a witness to the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world. But although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
Nicodemus – It was after dark one evening, when I, Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, a Pharisee …. came to speak with Jesus. I said, “Teacher,” “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are proof enough that God is with you.” Jesus replied to me, “I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” I exclaimed. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus replied to me, “The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven. So don’t be surprised at my statement that you must be born again. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, I am telling you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe us. But if you don’t even believe me when I tell you about things that happen here on earth, how can you possibly believe if I tell you what is going on in heaven? For only I, the Son of Man, have come to earth and will return to heaven again. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so I, the Son of Man, must be lifted up on a pole, so that everyone who believes in me will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
SONG – Joy to the World
Merry Christmas to you all. Enjoy the life of Christ within! Christ in you is the hope of glory and Christ in you is the testimony of the baby born in Bethlehem. He has reconciled us to our Father in heaven and we can know a life of being sons and daughters of God in His family of Love!
Ted J. Hanson