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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sermon 12252011 Christmas Day

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, we have celebrated Your Holy birth.  For St. John was inspired to proclaim, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”.  In Your birth, the plan of salvation was put into action and we now receive this morning, not only Your precious Body and Blood but now share in eternal life brought to us in a lowly manger for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas morning.  AMEN.

Can you name the song where the following lyrics come from?

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Ascribed as the most popular Christmas hymn due to it being translated into over 125 languages, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” still to this day inspires us.

On Christmas Day 1914, a peace settled over most of the fronts of Europe as men, who not days before were sworn enemies joined together to share the Christmas message.  The following is a fictional story based upon eyewitness accounts, by Aaron Shepard entitled, “A Christmas Truce” of a letter written from a soldier on the Eastern Front to his sister, but gives new meaning to the hymns we sing and take for granted.

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze. Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid. Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all. Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. Our first complete silence in months! We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it. We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will.

And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Noel, the angel did say . . . .

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied.

O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land!
Our reality we live with and celebrate today like the troops did on the Cold Eastern Front in 1914 is that the Word has become Flesh and dwelt among us!  We have beheld His Glory and this morning as we celebrate in song we also partake of His precious Body and Blood broken and shed for us and for all of mankind.  May we be fed, enriched and energized by God’s gift in the manger and from the altar where we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel on this Christmas morning.  AMEN!
//trial script