Opening Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming at Christmas to save us from evil. Amen.
Scripture: 2 Timothy 3.12-17
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
As we get ready to celebrate one of the happiest and most joyous events in the life of Jesus – His birth at Christmas – we also should remember that most people who were alive at the time of the first Christmas did not love Jesus or welcome Him.
You remember that there was no room for Mary and Joseph when they went to Bethlehem. No one would even give up their room for Mary to have her baby. Mary had to lay Jesus in a manger. As we continue reading further about the first Christmas, we remember that King Herod was very angry about the birth of Jesus, and he tried to kill Him.
Many people would try to argue with Jesus and try to hurt Him. Finally Jesus died on the cross. But His dying became our salvation. Just as Jesus’ birth was a great miracle, so was His resurrection from the dead. Jesus conquered all the evil of this world with the power of God’s love.
All the disciples of Jesus would eventually suffer persecution. As they taught about Jesus, some would believe, but many would reject His love. They would get angry, and they would hurt the disciples. But they were not afraid. They knew that God’s love in Jesus was stronger than any evil of this world.
There have been many Christians who have suffered for their faith. Today, in some parts of the world, Christians are remembering a girl named Lucia. Lucia lived in Italy about three hundred years after the time of Jesus. She was a Christian. A man wanted to marry Lucia, but she didn’t want to be married. He got angry with her and betrayed her to the governor. The governor tried to make Lucia worship the emperor instead of Jesus, but she would not. For this Lucia became a martyr. Since her name means “light,” some Christians began to remember her faithfulness by making wreathes of candles that they wore on their heads.
In our Scripture lesson today, St. Paul wrote to Timothy and encouraged him not to be afraid of evil people. He told him to keep on remembering God’s word and doing good works. That is still important advice for all Christians today: Remember God’s word and our salvation in Jesus. Keep doing the good works that shine the light of God’s love in this world. (Good Shepherd Chapel Message, December 13, 2012)
Prayer: Lord of Life, help all the people of the world who are being persecuted for their faith. Help me to remember Your word, Your salvation and help me to do good works so that the light of Your love might be known in this world. Amen.
Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Click here for the melody.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Refrain: Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel Shall come to Thee, O Israel
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.