Christmas 6a: Jesus is Born

Starry Night Over Bethlehem, In the style of Vincent van Gogh by Suzanne Bort Gray

The Story of Christmas
Day 6 Reading:
Luke 2:1-7

Jesus Christ is God incarnate coming into human flesh from the outside. His life is the Highest and Holiest entering in at the lowliest door. Have I allowed my personal life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? – Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race

Tears by Steve Garnaas Holmes
The Gentle One does not cause us pain,
yet all tears come from God.
The joy of Christmas
is the presence of Christ
in the dark night of our hurt.

Let your sorrows
be a manger for the Christ child,
a lowly resting place for the Beloved,
who transforms it
into a heavenly throne.

The real “reason for the season”
is not Jesus all by himself,
but the presence of the Beloved
embedded in the world’s suffering,
transforming it
into a place of holy encounter.

Go to the rough manger,
and behold the tender child.

He [Jesus of Nazareth] was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”—he was God.  Now, this is not just a pious commonplace: it is not a commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death —he [God] had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.
– Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church.

God comes to the woman who feels in exile in her own marriage, for the man who grieves the loss of life dreams. God comes to the child who lives on the street, for the parents who struggle to feed and clothe their children. God comes to the one whose loneliness or depression intensifies every Christmas. … Emmanuel – God-with-Us – is coming to us, to meet us wherever we are – happy or sad, joyous or grieving. God comes to stand with us, whatever our condition. And we thank God for that promised gift of presence. – Beth A. Richardson, Child of the Light

Liturgy: Welcoming Christ
The following worship resource alternates between verses of O Little Town of Bethlehem (United Methodist Hymnal #230) and a spoken prayer. It may be voiced in several different ways: 1) all persons sing and pray 2) all sing and one prays 3) one sings and all pray.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

We welcome you O Christ, Light of the World.
End our fears. Our hope is in you.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to all on earth!

We welcome you O Christ, son of Mary, Son of God.
Bring peace to all on earth.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

We welcome you O Christ, Gift of Heaven.
Enter in. We receive you and pray others will as well.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Amen.

*************
For information on The Story of Christmas Reading Plan, click here

Welcoming Christ: prayers and compilation © 2010 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the art and the use of this post in other settings,
please refer to the copyright information page.

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