Christmas in July Worship

The Gospel of Luke 1:39-55

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be* a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

46 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 138

1I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
2I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name, because of your steadfast love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name and your word above all things. 
3When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.
4All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
5They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
6The Lord is high, yet cares for the lowly,
perceiving the haughty from afar. 
7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies; your right hand shall save me.
8You will make good your purpose for me;
O Lord, your steadfast love endures forever; do not abandon the works of your hands. 

Titus 3:4-7

4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The Word of the Lord.

The Gospel of Luke 2:1-16

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph went from the town of Nazareth to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8In that region there were shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

15When the angels had gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We worship an absolutely – positively awesome God. The book of Genesis tells us our God created the world and everything in it. (Except for sin – of course. Sin is ALL on us!)

Our God created the entire universe out of a formless void by just speaking a few simple but very powerful words!

Our God spoke and created more planets than we can count. Our God created our sun – moon and the stars out of nothing.

God created over 300 thousand plant species and over 1 million animal species! Because God is just that good at creating things.

I know that this isn’t jasmine – but it is very lovely!

Our God created mighty Jupiter and delicate jasmine.

God created huge whale sharks and wiggling worms.

Our God spoke and created human beings in all of our vast and beautiful variety.

And our God is still creating today!

The Bible tells us our God can make the Red Sea part and bring arrogant – puffed up earthly rulers to their knees.

God can raise the dead to new life and free entire nations of people from slavery.

Our God makes rushing rivers in the desert and turns heartless murders into wise prophets.

Our God is so mighty and powerful – it is hard for us to fathom.   God the Father is so amazingly awesome – it can take your breath away.

In fact – the book of Exodus (chapter 33) tells us God the Father is so gloriously awesome – if a mere human being were to see God face to face – she could not survive. God’s glory is just too much for us to comprehend.

Not even Moses was allowed to see God face to face before he went to heaven!

When Moses asked to see God face to face – Moses was told if he saw God’s face – Moses would immediately die. Even the great prophet Moses was only permitted to see God’s back as God passed by.

It would be really easy to think this mighty – powerful – awesome God would simply be too busy to have time for us. That God would have much more important things to be concerned about than us. It would be easy to believe God the Father could never care about us and our problems and concerns and heartaches.

That the God who created the universe and everything in it couldn’t possibly care about what makes us happy or sad. Our hurts – our sorrows – our fears – our joys – our aches and pains and what delights us.

But we are told over and over again throughout God’s Word that God does care. God is really and truly interested. Our Bible readings for today remind us again and again that God cares about us. That our God cares – a lot!

Psalm 138 reminds us – “the Lord is high – yet God cares for the lowly.” God the Father cares for the lowly . . .

God sees you! You matter!

And Mary – the mother of our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – declares in the Gospel of Luke that God lifts up the lowly and cares for them.

Think about that – God the Father Almighty who created the universe and everything in it cares for human beings just like you and me. And not just that God the Father loves each and every single one of you.

God knows you and will never abandon you – not ever – because you are the work of his hands. You are God the Father’s beloved creation.

God wants to know what is in your heart and on your mind. God wants you to come to him with your thoughts and your concerns. God cares about what fills your heart with joy and God cares about what makes your knees shake and quake with fear.

God the Father – almighty – has all the time in the world for you.

You matter to God. You are important to him. What matters to you – matters to God.

In fact – our Gospel reading for today – is perhaps one of the most important declarations of just how much God cares for human beings.

Can there be a more powerful declaration of love than this?

God loves you so much that he blessed you with a Savior.

God loves you so much that he sent his beloved son – Jesus Christ into the world die for the forgiveness of your sins.

God loves you so much that he promises to forgive your sins and offers you the hope of eternal life spent with him in heaven.

God the Father loves you forever and always. Truly this is very good news indeed. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.