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Sermon December 24, 2023

Advent 4 B 2023 Song and Praise Sermon

Luke 1:26-38

Today is a busy day.  Today is the Fourth Sunday in the Season of Advent, and tonight will also be Christmas Eve.  It sure makes for a busy day for the Altar Guild.  This morning the color is blue.  Tonight, the color will be white.  Communion will be served this morning at this service, and this afternoon the communion elements will need to be refilled for tonight. 

The Advent bulletins will need to be gathered up and replaced with Christmas Eve bulletins.  The pews tidied up. The hymn board will need to be changed to indicate the hymns that we will sing tonight.  Yes.  Today is indeed a busy day.

I want to thank the Altar guild for all their hard work this Advent Season.  In fact, I want to thank the Altar Guild and our Worship Committee Chairperson (Bee Rose) and our church secretary Shelly for all the work that they do throughout the year that makes our Worship services so special.

 And while we are at it, I want to thank all the volunteers, especially our readers, our ushers, our assisting ministers, and tech support.  And I want to thank Grace, David, Karla, John and Monte for all the hard work they do each week.  Let’s give them a round of applause in appreciation.

Yes.  Today is a wonderful day. 

Today is the day when we can briefly set aside all the horrible things that are going on in this world and stop and give thanks and praise to God.  Today is the day when we can joyfully sing “O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray; cast out our sin, and enter in; be born to us today.”  (O Little Town of Bethlehem) 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent is “the Day” to sing, especially when the Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve fall on the same day.  Some folks sing on this day because it is “tradition” that we sing on this day.  For other people, we sing because the songs of the season remind them of their childhood and of Christmas celebrations of years gone by.

Other folks sing because the baby born in Bethlehem brings joy and peace to their lives, even as they go about all the hustle and bustle of the season. 

And so, it is appropriate that our gospel reading today comes from the Gospel according to St. Luke.  For you see, Luke’s Gospel is full of song and praise. 

In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that Zechariah, in his old age, when he found out that he was about to be a father, he immediately praised God. Mary, when she heard that she was going to be a mother, she broke out in song and praised to God.   Elizabeth, when she felt the child jump inside her, praised God for the gift of her child.

The angels. When they announced the birth of the Christ Child, they too broke into song.  The shepherds, after seeing the newborn babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, sang out loud for all to hear “Glory to God in the Highest” all the way home.

When old man Simeon held the Christ Child in his arms, he praised God.  When the elderly female prophet, Anna, saw the child, she praised God.  Everyone, it seems, broke out in song, and praised God in the first few chapters of Luke’s Gospel.  And to everyone’s delight, the child grew strong, and became filled with wisdom, and we are told that the favor of God was upon Him.

You know, I don’t know of any better way to worship God this morning than for us to break out in song too.  And so, we are going to sing several Christmas carols this morning in place of a sermon. 

I invite you to stand and join our voices together as we sing:

ELW # 270 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

1        Hark! The herald angels sing,

          "Glory to the newborn king;

          peace on earth, and mercy mild,

          God and sinners reconciled."

          Joyful, all you nations, rise;

          join the triumph of the skies;

          with angelic hosts proclaim,

          "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"



          Hark! The herald angels sing,

          "Glory to the newborn king!"

ELW # 277 Away in a Manger

1        Away in a manger, no crib for his bed,

          the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head;

          the stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,

          the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.


ELW # 282 It Came upon the Midnight Clear

1        It came upon the midnight clear,

          that glorious song of old,

          from angels bending near the earth

          to touch their harps of gold:

          "Peace on the earth, good will to all,

          from heav'n's all-gracious king."

          The world in solemn stillness lay

          to hear the angels sing.


We Wish You a Merry Christmas


We wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas

We wish you a Merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year

Good tidings to you wherever you are:

Good tidings for Christmas

And a Happy New Year!


Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son whom you sent to save us.  With all the folks who broke out in song and praise in scripture, we too give our thanks and our worship.  As we tell again the Nativity story, open the hearts and minds of all who hear it so that they too may believe, rejoice, and celebrate the gift that you have given to us. In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.