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by HW in HI


Merry Christmas!

What a wonderful night! This most holy of nights.

This evening let us travel back in time to a village in Israel, Bethlehem.

The people of Israel were told by the prophet Isaiah that this day would come. The ancient words were engraved upon their hearts:

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

And so the words of the prophet Isaiah would come to pass: a child born of the house of David, his authority grows, and called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

But for hundreds of years the people lived without such a savior. And here, in the ancient near east, something has happened. A young couple traveled to Bethlehem to be counted for the Roman census. The mother was "heavy with child." And when the husband, Joseph, went to seek lodging he found only the place for peasants -- the manger. And there, so far from home and family, Mary gave birth that night. Joseph named the baby Jesus and they wrapped him in swaddling clothes.

An observer might think it sad that the couple's first baby was born this way -- far from home, without the support and love the couple needed. And an observer with a good memory might notice the month of the birth, and the date of the wedding, and question Mary's propriety. And an observer might think, "Well, at least now the poor young woman can get some rest!"

But on this, the most holy of nights, an observer would have been mistaken.

Not far from Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus there were shepherds camped outdoors, keeping watch over their flock. An angel of the Lord appeared before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. The shepherds were terrified.

From time to time the people of Israel had experienced angels, but this angel was accompanied by the glory of the Lord. And the glory of the Lord was terrifying. Not just frightening, but terrifying. When Moses was on Mt. Sinai, the book of Exodus tells us that the appearance of the Glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire. Terrifying. It was this glory of the Lord that the shephers encountered. And the angel consoled them, "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." And those terrified shepherds heard the secret of the universe, spoken by an angel. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

This most holy of nights would not be a night of rest for Mary and Joseph. The shepherds hurried to find them, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. An observer would wonder how all this could make sense. "What sort of savior might this be born in the city of David? His parents were not well off. His mother had conceived him before marriage. And his social standing was such that other travelers stayed in the guest quarters. This little one was born in a manger. If this little child were to ever be called Mighty God," our observer ponders, "it would take an act of the Almighty!"

But this most holy of nights was no ordinary night. And the babe in the manger no ordinary child. By his very presence, the manger became holy. By his very presenc, Bethlehem was transformed. For on this most holy of nights, Mary brought forth into the world the King of Glory.

Who Is the King of Glory?

All of the power of Heaven and earth God has invested in Him He's to die on the cross Descend into hell Meet the devil And take the keys from him So He will yield Himself To the death on the cross Cry “It’s finished!” and bow to die. In the regions of hell The devil will celebrate, “We've destroyed the King!” he'll cry. In the midst of the celebration Footsteps shall be heard Walking the corridors of hell The shouting will stop When a voice rings out Twill be a voice that rings like a bell. Satan trembles as he recognizes Him Who comes to deliver His own. “Oh shut and lock the gates!” he cries. “Don't let Him ascend to His throne!” So the gate shall shut In the face of the King To prove God's salvation untrue But He shall shake hell’s gates And cry, "Lift up your heads The King is coming through!" So out of the devil’s prison house A procession will be led by the King Shouting — "Now, O grave, Where is your victory? And where, O death, thy sting?" Who is this King of Glory? The Lord God mighty in battle is He. Who is the King of Glory? Maker of Heaven and earth supreme. Who is the King of Glory? The One that not even death could stop. Who is this King of Glory? Why He's the babe in the manger And the little boy from the carpenter shop. (Author Unknown) On this most holy of nights was born the King of Glory. A humble, peaceful purposeful man, determined to give us the greatest Christmas gift of all: eternal life. Praise God.