The Songs of Christmas: What Child is This? (Matthew 2)

Sermon Series song music christmas 1110 x 624

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Songs of Christmas
January 1: What Child is This?
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
These are the notes from a message offered Epiphany Sunday, 1/6/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

History of What Child is This?
William Chatterton Dix was born in Bristol, England in 1837. In 1865, Dix was working as the manager of a maritime insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. He was suddenly struck by a severe illness that confined him to bed and brought on severe depression. He began to read the Bible with great fervor and to write spiritual poetry.  His near-death experience raised him to new life physically and spiritually.

What Child is This? By William C. Dix (UMH #219)
What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,  while shepherds watch are keeping?

Refrain:  This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; Haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. (Refrain)

Additional Verse: Nails, spear shall pierce him through; the cross he bore for me, for you; Hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the Son of Mary!

So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own him; The King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him. (Refrain)

What makes a great gift?

Story of Laura and Kevin’s engagement

Laura and Kevin engagement

A great gift is thoughtful, surprising, takes time and effort, is given from a place of love. A great gift has a deeper meaning. 

The deeper meaning behind the gifts brought by the wise men/Magi (Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV)

gold frankincense myrrhThe gifts of the wise men/Magi are precious, expensive, have a deeper meaning.

  • Gold
    • They expect to find a king.
    • They were searching for a leader who is worthy to be followed, worthy to give our allegiance.
  • Frankincense (dried tree sap)
    • Used as medicine or to offer prayers.
    • They were searching for something greater than themselves, the Holy, the Divine, one who is worthy to be worshiped.
  • Myrrh (dried tree sap)
    • Used for cleaning wounds and embalming.
    • They were looking for one who would bring them healing and wholeness.

The gifts point to who Jesus is and what he will do

Last Verse of We Three Kings by John Henry Hopkins: Glorious now behold Him arise, King and God and SacrificeAlleluia, Alleluia, Earth to heaven replies

Last Verse of In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti: What can I give Him, poor as I am. If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

So much more than just bringing our heart or even your money Bring You, the entirety of you, You are the treasure. Bring it all, give it all.

Jesus, you are King and God and Sacrifice
We bring you our gold: our prosperity, our possessions, our productivity
We bring you our frankincense: our worship, our reverence, our prayers
We bring you our myrrh: our brokenness, our grave clothes, our dust

Invitation to join one of the Reaching Ministries of the church. 

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CLICK HERE for a pdf of the Christmas Song Devotional Readings.

The Christmas Story is full of singing. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Simeon sings. The angels sing. Over the centuries we’ve continued to celebrate with songs of our own, songs born from the joy of Christ’s coming.

This holy season, to prepare our hearts again for the coming of Christ, we’ll reflect on the poetry of these meaningful songs. Some will be old friends. Others will be new. My prayer is that their beauty and power draw us closer to Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem, the Risen King. And that the grace of drawing near fulfills in us Christ’s power of new life.

Suggestions for Reflection on Each Song Lyric in the Christmas Devotion:

  • Find a quiet place to sit. Take a couple of deep breaths.
  • Read the song lyrics several times slowly, savoring the words.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is the big idea?
    • Why is it important?
    • How does this truth connect with my life?
  • Have a conversation with God about this truth.
  • Invite God to use this truth to birth something new in you this holy season.

Additional Ideas:

  • Journal your reflections
  • Draw, paint, or create some other kind of art based on your reflections
  • Find a scripture or two which inspired the song or where brought to mind by the lyrics
  • Sing or listen to the song
  • Share the song or just the lyrics on social media or face to face

I look forward to hearing your comments. – Lisa <

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What Child is This © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Christmas and Easter- a day and a season

manger-tomb-icon

A Christmas icon next to an Easter icon. The artist reminds us that in both stories Jesus is wrapped in bands of cloth, laid in stone (manger and tomb), visited, brought myrrh, and announced by angels.

The most beloved Christian holy-days are both days and seasons.

CHRISTMAS
We celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day and for a season of 12 days leading to Epiphany when we remember the wise ones following the star and finding the infant Jesus. Their arrival reveals the truth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Christmas season include:
    • Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1, Luke 2)
    • The angels announce the birth to the shepherds (Luke 2)
    • The shepherds visit the infant Jesus and then spread the good news of the Messiah’s birth (Luke 2)
    • Jesus’ circumcision and naming (Luke 2)
    • The prophets Simeon and Anna meeting Jesus and his family in the temple (Luke 2)
    • The wise ones seeing the star and traveling to Herod and then to Jesus and his family (Matthew 2)
    • Herod murdering the children of the region in hopes of killing the newborn King of the Jews (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2)
    • Mary/Joseph/Jesus returning from Egypt and settling in Nazareth (Matthew 2, Luke 2)

Click here for a detailed chronology of the events between Jesus’ birth and his family settling in Nazareth.

EASTER
We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter and for a season of 50 days leading to Pentecost when we remember the first followers receiving the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to carry on Jesus’ witness and work throughout the world. Again, Jesus is Lord and Messiah for all people in every place.

  • The stories of the Easter season include:
    • Mary, with other women, visits Jesus’ tomb. Jesus’ body is missing. She/They run to tell the disciples, two of which come to investigate and then leave.
    • Heavenly messengers announce the resurrection of Jesus to Mary and the women.
    • Mary encounters Jesus risen from the dead and runs to tell the disciples Jesus is alive.
    • Later on Easter, the Risen Christ appears to two disciples as they are traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. After realizing it’s Jesus, they return to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
    • Even later on Easter, Jesus appears to the disciples in the upper room. He reveals his wounds and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them. Thomas isn’t present and doubts the disciples’ story.
    • The Jewish leaders make up a story to explain why Jesus’ body is missing
    • A week later, Jesus appears to the disciples again, this time with Thomas present. Thomas believes.
    • Jesus appears to Peter and other disciples as they are fishing in Galilee. Jesus restores Peter to a place of leadership amongst his followers.
    • Jesus appears to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee
    • Jesus appears to his half-brother James.
    • In Bethany, Jesus instructs the disciples to continue his witness and work to all people and to return to Jerusalem to pray for the Holy Spirit.
    • Jesus ascends into heaven.
    • The disciples pray and on the 10th day the Holy Spirit comes in great displays of power at Pentecost. Peter preaches and over 3000 persons place their trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
timeline of post resurrection appearances

Timeline by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. Check out her article here.

Sermon Recording: Come and See What God Has Done, an Epiphany Sermon on Trust (Matthew 2)

matthew 2 epiphany star magi homageMessage: Come and See What God Has Done, an Epiphany Sermon on Trust
Scripture: Matthew 2
Offered 1/3/16, the Sunday before Epiphany, at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota FL

This message was preceded by the wonderful song Noel by Chris Tomlin.

I will not let worry overrule today or this Christmas. When the King rules my world, I cease to rule or to worry. All worry dethrones God. All worrying makes me King and God incompetent. I am going to trust that in the little places, through unexpected people, His perfect story is unfolding and unwrapping all around me and in me, the light overtaking the dark.
Ann Voskamp, from her Advent resource Sticky Notes for the Soul, Day 17

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace. —Luke 1:78-79

Pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place,
until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. —2 Peter 1:19

The closing prayer was adapted from a prayer entitled Lead Me by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

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I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Leon and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.

© 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Contact the Lisa for posting and publication considerations.

Advent Wreath Prayers: Let in the Light

pink_candle_light_flame_hope adventFirst Sunday in Advent: HOPE
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: Psalm 84:11-12
The Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts, blessed is everyone who trusts in you.

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candle of hope

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Second Sunday in Advent: LOVE
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: John 3:16-21
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candles of hope and love

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Third Sunday in Advent: JOY
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: John 12:46, John 8:12
Jesus said, “I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness… I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candles of hope, love and joy

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Fourth Sunday in Advent: PEACE
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: 1 Peter 2:9-11
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul.

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the candles of hope, love, joy and peace

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Christmas Eve
Part One, at or near the beginning of the service
READER ONE: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7
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.

An Advent candle is lit as each name for the Messiah is read:
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.

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.

ALL: Prayer by Dimitri of Rostov 
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Part Two, at the end of the service
READER ONE OR PASTOR
For weeks we’ve been lighting more and more candles on this wreath in preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Tonight we light the final candle, for Jesus, the Light of the World, has come. God has kept the prophetic promise:

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

ONE SINGING
I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
United Methodist Hymnal #206, verse 1
Light the Christ Candle during the song

READER ONE OR PASTOR
It’s now our turn. Accept the Light, share Him with others, and carry His peace forth from this place.

The light is passed from person to person as all sing Silent Night (United Methodist Hymnal #239). At the close of Silent Night, sing the following a cappella
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday dear Jesus
Happy Birthday to You

Follow this with the closing Benediction and/or Postlude

Christmas Day or the Sunday after Christmas
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: John 1:1-5
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being.
What has come into being in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the Christ candle

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

Epiphany or the Sunday before Epiphany
READER ONE: Let in the Light

READER TWO: Matthew 2:1-2
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”

READER ONE: Let in the Light
Light the Christ Candle

ALL: The following prayer by Dimitri of Rostov or a verse or two from the song I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (United Methodist Hymnal #206)
Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.
Come, my Life, and revive me from death.
Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.
Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins,
kindling my heart with the flame of your love.
Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there,
for you alone are my King and my Lord.
Amen.

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This worship resource emphasizes the classic Advent candle symbols of hope, love, joy and peace. Since the scriptures center on the theme of light, this resource may be used in any liturgical year. The passages come from the NIV or NRSV of the Bible.

This worship resource calls for “more and more candles” to be lit each Sunday of Advent in order to emphasize “more and more light”. (The present and second coming of Christ growing more near as time passes. The celebration of Christ’s first coming at Christmas growing nearer as well). Thus, no candles are lit prior to the service. Some prefer to have the previous weeks’ candles lit prior to the service so only one candle is lit each week, thus adding light to those already lit. Feel free to use whichever method you prefer. Also, feel free to substitute a different prayer or song choice for the congregation at the end of each reading.

You’ll notice only the Christ candle is lit during the season of Christmas, December 25 – January 5. (12 days of Christmas) Some Christians extend this season to January 11, ending it with a celebration of Jesus’ baptism.

Click here for a post discussing the Christian understanding of Advent.
Click here for a brief history of the Advent Wreath.

Advent Wreath Prayers: Let in the Light © 2015 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.

What is Epiphany?

EpiphanyChart

Epiphany Chart by Father Stephanos, O.S.B. from his blog http://monkallover.blogspot.com/

People who specialize in a belief or practice tend to develop “code language.” The specialized vocabulary of medical professionals and the law are two common examples, but the same is true for construction workers, baseball players and those who cook. Likewise, Christianity has developed specialized words which serve as shortcuts for those who understand their meaning- grace, liturgy, eschatology, justification, Trinity, redemption… words which are helpful, but aren’t a normal part of our everyday vocabulary.

The word epiphany is still used in conversation from time to time, but also serves as one of those fancy church words.

Epiphany:

  • from the Greek phainein to bring to light, to cause to appear, to show; epiphainein to manifest, epiphainea appearance
  • a Christian festival observed on January 6, commemorating the coming of the Magi (aka Wise Men) as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (persons who are not Jewish)
  • a season of the Christian year from the end of the 12 days of Christmas (January 6) to the beginning of the season of Lent (Ash Wednesday). The season of Epiphany varies in length depending on the date of Easter.
  • an appearance of manifestation, esp.of a divine being
  • a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something;
  • an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking.

A new year has begun. During this year, too, all the paths from east to west, from morning until evening, lead on and on as far as the eye can see, through the deserts of life, with all its changes. But these paths can be turned into the blessed pilgrimage to the absolute, the journey to God. Set out, my heart, take up the journey ! The star shines. You can’t take much with you on the journey. And you will lose much on the way. Let it go. Gold of love, incense of yearning, myrrh of suffering – these you certainly have with you. He shall accept them. And we shall find him.
-Karl Rahner, The Great Church Year