The First Sunday after Christmas December 27, 2015
John 1:1-5, 10-18; Luke 2:1-20; Matthew 1:1-12
94, 91, 90, 127, I Love the Tell the Story, 87
I love to tell the story—the one you have just heard
The one recorded by John, Matthew, and Luke—by inspiration of the Lord.
I am one of the shepherds who saw the angel out in the field that night.
And let me tell you something: It was quite a sight!
You know how stories sometimes change and years later you can’t quite agree
On just exactly how things happened when so-and-so was here with you and me?
Well, that could never happen with this story between my shepherd friends and I
Because we all remember just so clearly the messenger from God on High.
As you know, we were at first completely filled with fear
But then the angel told us to stop being afraid because our Savior was here.
Even now the words still echo in my heart, soul, and mind—
An angel from God said: To ME was born a Savior…and Him I would find.
Oh dear Christians, let me tell you the story of just what it means to see
That God is so gracious and after so many years—so faithful—to send a Savior to set us free.
Oh dear Christians, let me tell you the story of the joy that filled my heart then and will never cease,
When I heard the heavenly host say the one simple little word: Peace.
Now, I’m just a shepherd—my life much different from the ones you lead
But when all is said and done, we’re the same: weak, heavily burdened sinners who need to be freed.
That’s why I love to tell the story. Why! I tell it even to myself!
Because in that little child is my and everyone else’s eternal escape from Hell.
Life is not always easy keeping watch over flocks by night
And whether by night or by day, at work or at play, my battle ‘gainst sin is a constant fight.
Oh, the worries! The wrong words I’ve said! The right things I don’t, and the sinful things I do!
The thoughts I’m glad no one hears, but God does, and that makes me sad. How ‘bout you?
But joy to know that my worries really have no foundation
Because the God who created heaven and earth has now sent His Son for my salvation!
Peace to know that every harmful word, every evil thought, every sinful thing that I have done
In the blood of Jesus is washed away—every single one!
Though centuries stand between us, I think you’re just like me
I think that when you come to Bethlehem in spirit you too come to see
A wondrous gift form Heaven, God’s Son come down to earth
And in that lowly manger find a treasure beyond all other worth.
I was an eyewitness of Jesus’ birth and God’s angelic declaration
I’m giving you my eyewitness story to fill your hearts with elation.
Such a wondrous story, I love to tell it again and again for it is God’s Word.
So you, having heard, Come! LET THE EARTH NOW PRAISE THE LORD! (TLH 91)
I love to tell the story—I have a perspective like none other
For when I tell the story, it is of my firstborn son—I am Mary, Jesus’ mother.
The story I tell begins before Beth’lem, the shepherds, and the manger
Back to when Gabriel entered my room, at that time a total stranger!
Gabriel greeted me, “Rejoice! Highly favored one,” a greeting strange indeed.
The angel’s words grew still more wondrous as he explained to me
That I would conceive and bring forth a son. Now, this perplexed me sore
Because I had not yet known a man. So, the angel told me more.
The son whom I would bear would be from God—the Holy Spirit would conceive;
If this message had come from anyone but God, I know I could not have believed.
But I trusted the news God was bringing, as hard as it was, and I marveled at God’s grace
That He would use me to send His Son, the Savior of the sinful human race.
Is there love greater than that of a mother? God’s is, and this I know
Still, as a I wrapped and laid down my new born son, I began to feel just how strong my love for Him would grow.
Oh, the joy of motherhood—to see my young son grow and play,
How happy I was, how blessed I felt to watch Him day-by-day.
When Jesus, Joseph, and I met Simeon in the temple, this he would say:
That my mother’s heart of love would be pierced with deepest sorrow one day.
As I stood at the foot of the cross, I watched my Jesus bow His head in death
It was then that I knew just how true were those words which Simeon had said.
“I watched my Jesus die”—mine because He is my son,
But even more than that, mine and yours because for us salvation was won!
In Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection there is so much to ponder
I didn’t understand it all right then, but now I do, and it fills my soul with greatest wonder.
As I and others tell the story, listen! And hear! All there is to know
Tuck the story into your heart and ponder it and your love for it will grow.
Because the story is the Gospel and the Holy Spirit who once my son conceived,
Will work in your hearts as He did in mine and you will grow in love and understanding and believe!
Jesus was born to me to be my son for thirty-three years upon this earth,
Jesus was born to be all peoples’ Savior forever, and to give us all new birth.
So ponder the Gospel, let it be your uplifting, find in it the reasons to be praising.
Bring it all back to your mind and heart, give glory to God and COME, YOUR HEARTS AND VOICES RAISING. (TLH 90)
I love to tell the story—though for me it took longer to complete
Because to see Jesus, I and my fellow magi had to come a great distance from the East.
You need not trouble your hearts and minds with every little thing
Such as from which country did we come, how we saw the star and know the message God intended it to bring.
No, don’t trouble yourselves trying to decide just exactly how it all came to be
Just believe that it was God’s guiding hand—that’s enough for me!
I rejoice in the story the shepherd has already told you, and Mary as well.
Their message is the background for the chapter of the story I wish to tell.
I want and love to tell the story of God’s guidance and direction—
The love, power, and strength He uses for each one of us, to lead and give protection.
God made the star, brought us safely to Jerusalem, then gave the star once more
Which, when it had reappeared, led us straight to Jesus’ door!
When we had worshipped and given gifts to Jesus in His home, it was time to return to ours
We knew nothing of what was happening, but God knew the dangers being planned by human powers.
So God warned us in a dream to return home a different way from that which we had come
By doing so God protected His Son, our Savior, and gave us a safe journey home.
With Joy we had followed the star because we trusted that God was showing us the way
And that is the message of the story I wish to bring to you today.
Just as God directed Caesar’s decree, our journey, and all the rest,
So too, He will without doubt, lead and direct your life in whatever way is best.
Now, before you wish for a star or some other dramatic sign to guide,
I want you to stop and think of what was leading me and the friends by my side.
Yes, we saw the star, but that star did not tell us about the “king of the Jews” whom we sought
And when we left Jerusalem for Bethlehem it was because of God’s Old Testament Word that the temple scribes had brought.
When the star re-appeared it was only a sign like swaddling clothes and manger for the shepherds that first Christmas night
So it was really God’s Word that had been guiding us all along—yes, that’s right,
The same Word of God which you have was really our guiding “star”
To realize you have the same Word guiding you will show you just how blessed you really are!
As you travel life’s long journey, across challenges, and broken dreams,
Remember that if things don’t always go your direction they aren’t really as hopeless as they seem
For when you want to go one way and end up going quite the other,
It might hurt a bit, but you will dry your tears to know that you are being led by your heavenly Father.
Your life and all its decisions and actions is your journey through this valley of tears,
Go forward and by God’s grace live your life for Christ with confidence…and set aside your fears.
Go forward! Say to God, “Lead on!” Walk sure and bold.
Trusting that God will guide you, and then go with joy just AS WITH GLADNESS did we MEN OF OLD. (TLH 127)
“I Love to Tell the Story” upon this theme let us dwell
As we are gathered here to celebrate our Lord—Immanuel.
What a story! And best of all it is completely true
Not just a fairy tale or entertainment or a mystery that leaves us wondering what to do.
It is a story you know well because you have heard it all before.
It’s a story we pray will not leave us when we walk out that front door.
My trouble is—and perhaps it’s a challenge also for you—
Is that I know the story so well I assume that others do too.
But there are many who don’t know the story, or if they do know the words, they don’t believe.
If angels rejoice over each sinner who repents, then surely they must grieve
To see so many in the world for whom Christmas is just another night
Because they place their trust in false hope, or may not even see their sinful plight.
To a world lost in sin, Jesus has called us to speak salvation’s story
To tell of the Father’s love for all sinners; His son who died, rose again, and now reigns in eternal glory.
And as long as we stay sinners, the Gospel story is one we also need to hear
And so we celebrate with joy, God’s Christmas gift, and relive it year-after-year.
God’s Word is timeless. The century in which we live is truly of little concern,
Whether a sinner of 4000 BC, or 2015 AD, the one true God is a refuge to whom we can turn!
To Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, let us lift our hearts in praise and give Him thanks and glory
For such a great gift of grace that we cannot help but LOVE TO TELL THE STORY! Amen!
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.