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Twelve days to go, here's a provisional top 12 Christmas Carols...  what are your thoughts?

12. Once in Royal David’s City

11. While Shepherds Watched

10. O Come All Ye Faithful

9. Child in a Manger Born

8. O Come O Come Emmanuel

7. From the Squalor (Stuart Townend)

6. See Amid the Winter’s Snow

5. Angels From the Realms of Glory

4. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

3. Hark The Herald

2. Thou Who Wast Rich

1. For Unto Us a Child Is Born (Handel)

I was going to promise to post up a decent video of each before Christmas, but it's proving hard to find some of these...

 

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I'll show you mine if you show me yours.  You got some Christmas sermon wealth you wanna share?  Here's the ones I could find.

Christmas is God laying hold of us - Hebrews 2:14-18

Evangelistic carols service - Light shining in darkness - Isaiah 9:2-7

In the beginning... - John 1:1-2

The Word became flesh - John 1:14

Christmas brings a crisis - John 1:15-18

All-age: Christmas turns slaves to sons - Galatians 4:4-7

All-age Carols Talk: Christmas is weird - Phil 2:5-11

 

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Another kids song for Christmas.  Another round.  Based on Luke 2:10.

Round kicks in around 1:40.

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MP3 Audio

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Words and Guitar Tab below

...continue reading "Kids song on Christmas theme"

For some reason my preaching rises by an octave in all-age services.  Here's my Christmas morning falsetto sermon on Galatians 4:4-7.

Christmas turns slaves to sons because He shared in our life so that we can share in His.

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This post first appeared last year in a series of three on the incarnation.  The other two are: Incarnation and trinity and Incarnation and salvation.

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Christ is "The Beginning", "The Alpha", "The First".  His Person is itself the basis for creation.  He is the One who is eternally Other from the Father and the foundation for all else that is other than Him.  Because of Him, through Him and for Him flows a creation.

Christ is by nature and eternally from the Father in the Spirit.

Creation is by grace and in time from the Father through the Son and in the Spirit.

This shows us

a) the spreading goodness of the triune God, Whose being is outwardly curved.  Creation is not necessary to God.  But God's being, like a fountain, by nature overflows.  It is a being going out towards the other.

b) creation is not a free floating reality but something beginning in the Son, crafted by Him, cohering in Him and headed towards Him as His inheritance.  While God's being reaches out towards the other it is simultaneously a being that draws the other in bonds of love.

These twin tendencies - the going out and the drawing in - find fulfilment in creation and incarnation.

Let's think about Genesis 1.  The heavens (masculine) and the earth (feminine) - like head and body, husband and wife - set the scene for this theatre of God's glory.  And centre stage is man - Adam made from the Adamah (the ground).  He is not spoken into being.  This man of dust (Gen 2:7) is made of the very stuff of the earth - drawn up, pinched off like clay and breathed into.  The earth-man is strongly united to the earth over which he is placed as head.

Adam means

a) that particular bloke;

b) 'a man' (a true human being) and

c) 'humanity' (as a whole).

This central actor - man - is king.  He is God's ruler, through whom He exercises dominion.  From the outset God's rule is a mediated rule - through man.

Now when man is disobedient you may have thought that God would renege on His determination to rule through man.  But no.  He takes this mediation through man very seriously.  It is because of the cosmic kingship of man that man's fall entails the fall of all creation.  The ground (adamah) is cursed because of man (adam).  Man remains king.  But while man is perverse, so is his world.

But all of this looks towards the Man of Heaven (1 Cor 15:47-49).  Flesh and blood could never inherit the kingdom of God.  Men of dust were never the intention.  The intention was always the union of heavenly Man and earthly man.  The intention was always for the Logos to take this flesh and as Man to rule as God's true king.  This rule was not to be a divine rule over and against man.  It was to be a heavenly rule in and through man.

And so came the eschatological Adam (1 Cor 15:45).  He is

a) that particular bloke, Jesus;

b) 'a man' (a true human being) and

c) 'humanity' (an eschatological humanity to answer Adam's)

He sums up the man of dust, his being and life.  He takes His very flesh and retraces the steps of his disobedience, hammering out instead a being and life of perfect faithfulness.  Then, exalted as the pinnacle of all creation, this eschatological Adam is lifted up between heaven and earth - absorbing the curse of both and reconciling one to the other.  As Priest He ministers by the Spirit, offering to God the true worship of earth (Heb 9:14).  As Lamb He receives the curse of God on behalf of man (Gal 3:13).  As King, He reigns from the tree, manifesting God's righteous rule to the ends of the earth.

Ascending as Priest, Lamb and King to the Father's right hand, Jesus has lead captives in His train and sat down as Head over all things for the church.  The True Man, our Brother, sits in heaven as ruler of earth, not over against earth.  Rather, having taken Adam (and in him, adamah!) to Himself, He rules as and for man for all eternity.  When the heavenly Husband (masculine) moves house with His Father to earth (feminine) there will be the Marriage to end all marriages.  The manifested union of Bridegroom and bride will be at the same time the manifested union of heaven and earth.  Christ and creation will be consummated that day.

As Alpha, Christ has crafted a creation and granted it a gracious otherness.

As Omega, He has entered in and drawn back that creation to a gracious oneness.

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Athanasius... declares that Christ the eternal Son is the “living will” of the Father, and as such His Advent is the advent of the decree, God’s choice, in human flesh.  (Peter Leithart)

Is God's election secret or revealed?  Both.  It's hidden.  But hidden in Christ - Matthew 11:25-28:

25At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

27"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Christmas is the advent of God's eternal decree - Christ Himself.  Lay hold of Him and you lay hold of God's eternal choice.

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Athanasius... declares that Christ the eternal Son is the “living will” of the Father, and as such His Advent is the advent of the decree, God’s choice, in human flesh.  (Peter Leithart)

Is God's election secret or revealed?  Both.  It's hidden.  But hidden in Christ - Matthew 11:25-28:

25At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

27"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Christmas is the advent of God's eternal decree - Christ Himself.  Lay hold of Him and you lay hold of God's eternal choice.

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The verse the early post-apostolic church probably turned to most to guide their understanding was Hebrews 2:14, ‘Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil’. In other words, the incarnation was, quite specifically, about the Son of God taking to himself the flesh he had created for Adam so that he could heal it of all that had been inflicted on it at the Fall. In Christ, real flesh and blood would be taken through death into the hope of bodily resurrection...

...The who of the incarnation is perhaps the most extraordinary thing of all. That is, this baby is Immanuel, God with us. He is not just some divine ambassador. He is God: God in the flesh. But if so, what an unexpected God! He does things that God really ought not do. We all know perfectly well that God belongs on a throne, not in an animal’s feeding trough. But he seems not to be aware of such protocols...

...when we see the incarnate Christ we see a very specific person. We do not see a system of thought or a religious principle, but a man – a man who personally is God, salvation, truth and life. And that entirely alters the very shape of Christianity: conversion here cannot then at root be about exchanging one set of beliefs, practices or perspectives for another, but abandoning other loves for love of this person.

Read the whole of this excellent short article here.

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