Your December 24th, Sermon & Ministry Resources
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Lectionary Readings — Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 24, 2023
Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-20
Call to Worship (based on Psalm 96)
Leader: Sing to the LORD a new song, for on this holy day, we remember the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
People: We sing of God's salvation, made known to us through a child lying in a manger.
Leader: Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it.
People: Let the fields exult, and everything in them. Today, the promise of ages is fulfilled.
Leader: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders.
People: His name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Leader: Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
People: We proclaim the joy of His coming, for great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised.
Leader: Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
People: We give to the LORD the glory due his name; we come into his presence with singing.
Leader: Worship the LORD in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
People: On this Christmas Eve, we join with all creation in praising the LORD, who has come to dwell among us.
Opening Prayer (based on Isaiah 9:2-7)
On this sacred day, as we gather to celebrate the birth of Your Son, our hearts are filled with gratitude and awe. We remember the words of the prophet Isaiah, who spoke of a great light shining in the darkness, a light that guides us to Your love and truth.
Lord, we thank You for the gift of Jesus Christ, our Wonderful Counselor, who brings wisdom to the weary, and direction to the lost. In Him, we find the guidance and understanding we so desperately need.
We praise You for sending us the Mighty God, in whom we find the strength to face our challenges and fears. His power is our fortress, and in His might, we find our protection.
We are grateful for the Everlasting Father, who embraces us with a father’s love, nurturing, caring, and providing for us. In His eternal embrace, we find security and peace.
And we honor You for the Prince of Peace, whose reign brings harmony and reconciliation. In a world torn by strife and discord, His presence is our hope for peace and unity.
On this Christmas Eve, as we reflect on the gift of Your Son, light our path with His love. May His birth renew our hearts and minds, bringing peace to our lives and love to our actions.
We ask all this in the precious name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and King.
Sermon Outline: [NOTE to Paid subscribers — scroll down for the full manuscript sermon].
Purpose: To highlight the unexpected sources of hope in the Christmas story, as told in Luke 2:1-20. It seeks to inspire the congregation to find hope in humble circumstances and to recognize God's presence in the ordinary. By focusing on Bethlehem, the manger, and the shepherds, the sermon encourages believers to be open to divine surprises and to share the inclusive message of Christ's birth. This sermon is a call to seek and spread hope, emphasizing its availability in the most unassuming places and situations.
Title: The Power of Hope in Unexpected Places (Luke 2:1-20)
Begin with an engaging story or anecdote about finding hope or value in an unexpected place.
Introduce Luke 2:1-20, focusing on the unexpected nature of Christ's birth and its significance.
Present the theme: The emergence of hope in unexpected and overlooked places, as symbolized by Christ’s birth.
I. Bethlehem’s Background
Scriptural Reference: Luke 2:4-5
Discussion: Explore Bethlehem's role as an unlikely location for the Messiah's birth, a small and seemingly insignificant town.
Application: Encourage the congregation to see how God often chooses the overlooked places to unfold His grand plans.
II. Manger’s Message
Scriptural Reference: Luke 2:6-7
Discussion: Reflect on the symbolism of Jesus being born in a manger and how it represents hope emerging in the humblest settings.
Application: Inspire the congregation to find hope in humble beginnings and to seek God’s presence in the ordinary aspects of their lives.
III. Shepherds’ Significance
Scriptural Reference: Luke 2:8-12
Discussion: Discuss the choice of shepherds, societal outsiders, as the first recipients of the news of Jesus' birth.
Application: Highlight how God often communicates through unexpected messengers and encourage openness to divine surprises.
IV. Universal Uplift
Scriptural Reference: Luke 2:10-11
Discussion: Dive into the angel's message of joy and hope for all people, emphasizing the inclusive nature of Christ's birth.
Application: Stress that hope in Christ is available to everyone and encourage the congregation to be bearers of this universal message of hope.
Summarize the main points, reinforcing the theme of finding hope in unexpected places.
End with a call to action, encouraging the congregation to carry the message of hope into their daily lives and to share it with others.