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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

12242013 Late Christmas Eve Service

Sermon Audio

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.

Tonight we come to honor the new born King, Jesus Christ!  Simply this service is not only to tell of the message of His birth, but especially the joy of His coming to save us.  We are simply gathered to honor Jesus Christ Who comes in the manger to begin His earthly life and the salvation that He offers us.

The story is told of World War I when the Germans and British on opposite sides are in the most desperate and heated battles of the war on December 24th.  Each side attempts to take the same the piece of ground that divides them before the traditional Christmas peace.  As midnight comes the guns once blasting and booming fall silent.  The deafness and stillness fills the void of what is no-man’s land.  As the moments of stillness expand, from both sides in the fox holes the soldiers have lit fires for their smokes and to gain some sense of warmth in their hands since in war darkness is king and fires are forbidden.

As the minutes turn into hours soldiers from both sides hear their enemies of only hours ago singing in equally foreign languages and tongues, but hauntingly familiar tunes from their respective countries.  At times the same tune we know as “Silent Night” is clearly heard over the stillness of the battlefield.  Ironically this song sung in German and English though different languages unites these former foes.  As both sides sing their version, a white flag on both sides suddenly springs up and the soldiers quietly peek out across the battle lines and see that both sides are offering the international sign of peace symbolized by a simple white cloth.

Slowly each side united in the song of “Silent Night” in German and English emerge from their collective foxholes and move toward each other and quickly and with surprising fondness clasp each other’s hands and begin to share not only their meager food rations, but also their drink, souvenirs and smokes.  For one brief moment not only the songs of Christmas were shared, but also the understanding of worshiping the same God Who came in a lowly manger wrapped in strips of cloth.

Tonight we gather together around a manger half a world away and a hundred years later celebrating the coming of the same Christ child with our sharing of the Christmas story and songs.  May each of us who gather with our families and friends tonight, not only find the truest meaning of Christmas in Jesus Christ, but may we find camaraderie around the manger with our celebrating Christ’s coming into the world.  May we be united and enabled to celebrate with each other our sharing His Gift of His Son’s Body and Blood for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Christmas Eve night.  AMEN.
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