–“What the world needs now is love, sweet love”. No, what the world needs is the unconditional, uncaused, unfailing, everlasting, holy love of God. And it came into the world on Christmas day in the babe in a manger.

16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

1″In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.

4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:1-20

Jesus came and redefined love from something we fall into (and out of) or something that makes me happy (vs. holy) or good feelings or lust to: –“4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

–“Love never fails.” God is eternally committed to us and His agape love never quits working for our highest eternal good! And our agape love in response to His is to be committed to Him and our friends’ (and even enemies’) highest eternal good.

Jesus gives joy to all who seek that elusive thing called happiness:

–“10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

That Jesus who came into the world can come into our hearts: This is by invitation — another –“coming” of Jesus. –“12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 Pray, –“Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart Lord Jesus. Thank you for dying for all my sins and giving me eternal life. Teach me and empower me to be the person You created me to be for you joy and glory.” Amen

Or maybe you have lost the joy of your salvation. If so pray with David: O God –“12 Restore unto me the joy of your salvation.” (Psalm 51:12) –“for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

The Story of the Dancing God — See Luke 15

–“’Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

–“I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."

11Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. 12The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.

17"When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20So he got up and went to his father.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21"The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.

22"But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31" ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ " God rejoices when He finds one of His lost children — you and me.

And we rejoice when He finds us and we find Him. 44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matthew 13:44

–“20I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:2022

Jesus says, –“In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.” John 16:33

13"I am coming to you now, (Father) but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” John 17:13

–“11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

Jesus came and redefined joy from circumstantial, fleeting happiness to knowing and enjoying Him, the One who never changes and will never leave us or forsake us.

Jesus gives peace even in the midst of trials.

–“14Glory to God in the highest [heaven], and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased [men of goodwill, of His favor].” –“1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2

Psalm 23

–“1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

–“20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20

We can have fellowship and intimacy with the Lord as we set aside time to meet with Him and sup with Him for the Lord promises: –“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8 This is yet another –“coming” of Jesus. And this too is by invitation from us as the Lord knocks on the door of our hearts asking to come in to fellowship with us. How sweet of the Lord to want us so and how patient He is when we essentially say, –“I’m too busy Lord, can we get together later.”

How do we receive this peace? We pray:

–“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

–“7Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Jesus says: –“27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Jesus redefines peace:

Peace the world gives Peace that Jesus gives
Depends on having resources Depends on having right relationships with God and man
Depends on our ability to accomplish something temporal Depends on God’s power to accomplish things that will last forever 2 Cor. 3:4-6; Phil. 4:11-13
Peace that comes from the absence of trials Peace that comes from the Presence of a Person even in the midst of trials Psalm 23:4; Phil. 4:6-7
Walking by sight and depending on externals Walking by faith and depending on the internals and eternals 2 Cor. 4:16-18


 Yet, love, joy and peace in a sinful, fallen world are really not possible without living by faith in the blessed hope of our Lord Jesus’ second coming —the ultimate –“coming” of our Lord. But He promised He would come back and take us to be with Him in heaven, our true Home, and this is what every Christian heart longs for (–“groans for” Romans 8:18-25).

–“11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:11-14

Some people say Christianity isn’t relevant to the day to day reality of work and family and recreation and so forth. The word relevant means –“relating to or pertinent to matters at hand.” Matters such as war, and terrorism, and suicide bombers and cancer and mental illness and broken relationships and shattered dreams and the ultimate relevant –“matter” – death. Oh but we know better. Jesus is relevant to all these –“matters”. First of all He came in the midst of an evil suffering world on Christmas day 2,000 years ago and showed us how to live and empowered us to live by the power of the Holy Spirit with hope and with love joy and peace as He did in the midst of a fallen world. But more than that He dealt with the most relevant –“matter” of all — death and conquered it by God (literally) and trumped war, and terrorism, and suicide bombers and cancer and mental illness and old age and broken relationships and shattered dreams and….Paul put it this way: –“35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

So Jesus said to the disciples and to us today: 1"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14: 1-3

–“This Good News was promised long ago by God through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3It is the Good News about his Son, Jesus, who came as a man, born into King David’s royal family line. 4And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit.Romans 1:2-4

The grave couldn’t hold Him and therefore, in Christ, the grave cannot hold us.

And what about those of us in Christ: –“We will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
55"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15: 51-58

Speaking of war, someone once asked C. S., Lewis, in mockery of his faith in light of the harsh realities of a world war right there on his own soil, –“What if you looked up and saw an atomic bomb about to land on your head, what would you do then?

He said, I’d look up, stick my tongue out and say Ha! I’m immortal!

Christianity is relevant. Jesus is relevant, in all matters pertaining to life, death and eternal glory. So Christmas, His first coming, gives us assured hope that He will come again and take us home:

–“1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Revelation 5:1-5

Amen: Let’s pray together. Thank God for Jesus! –“Sweet little baby boy, born in a manger…. we didn’t know who you was”. But thank you Lord that we now know who You are – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (even my sins) and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will return with power and great glory. We worship you with the angel and arch angels and all the host of heaven and join with them in singing: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!" 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!" 14The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Revelation 5:12-14

As we commune with the Lord and each other at the Lord’s table this morning let us be thankful (Eucharist) for Him and all we heard about Him this morning and also be thankful that in this memorial He left a physical reminder of Himself, not only that He came, but what He did when He came — He gave us Himself – body and blood. And forgave us of ALL our sins! If you have never personally received Jesus as you Savior this would be a very appropriate time to do it as you receive Him by faith in the symbols of His life and death. And as we partake, let us heed the words of John Piper about what (Who) we are really grateful for:  –“If we only trust Christ to give us gifts and not himself as the all satisfying gift, then we do not trust him in a way that honors him as our treasure. We simply honor the gifts. They are what we really want, not him. So, biblical faith in Jesus must mean that we trust Him to give us what we need most – namely, himself. That means that faith itself must include at its essence a treasuring of Christ above all things."

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