Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Carols Talk on Luke 2


Talk Audio

Talk notes:

Prometheus is the Christmas story in photo-negative!

Intrepid humans make treacherous journey into heavens

We try to make contact with our makers

They turn out to hate us and seek our destruction

Only our own efforts can save us from our makers

Christmas is the polar opposite

It doesn’t begin with intrepid humans but with Luke 2:8…

Farm-labourers on a night-shift.

But all heaven breaks loose.

Verse 9: The opposite of the science fiction stories

He doesn’t say “Take me to your leader”, but “Here, have our Leader!”

Verse 10: The Messiah – do you know Handel’s Messiah?

Here’s the One promised throughout the Scriptures

The Hope of the ages, the Desire of all nations

One filled to overflowing with the Spirit

Like the top glass of a Champagne fountain

In Luke 1 He’s called “The Son of God”

This is who God is: A Father pouring the life, love and joy of the Spirit onto His Son

Here’s the good news… the Son is given to us…

To share everything He has and everything He is with us.

God the Son became God our Brother…

Verse 12: A baby, wrapped in rags, laid in a feeding trough

Lo within a manger lies He who built the starry skies.

Why?  Verse 11 – He is Saviour.

What does He save us from? Disconnection

The human race is disconnected, like a Christmas tree.

All that’s wrong is because of a foundational disconnect with God.

This Christmas will be hard because of disconnection…

Death, Divorce, Disease, Depression or simple Disappointment will ruin Christmas

We need re-connection and so…

The One connected to God connects Himself with us.

Will you receive Him?

He is a Gift “to you” – verse 11.

Around the ankle of the baby Jesus, imagine a gift tag “to you”

Will you receive the ultimate Christmas Gift?


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Rich Owen has dug up a great old hymn by WC Smith, added a verse and reworked it.  I tinkered some more and we’ve now got two fairly majorly reworked versions.  The first is to the tune of Cwm Rhonda (Guide me O…)

Earth was waiting, spent and restless,
certain hope with mingled fear;
Hard the dying, long the sighing,
‘Surely, Lord, the day is near;
Great Desire of all the nations,
Speed the hour when you appear,
Speed the hour when you appear!

In the barren streets of Israel,
where the Lord would make his home,
there a lost, rejected people
under curse and law they groan
this old world because of wisdom,
Neither Lord nor God had known,
Neither Lord nor God had known.

Then the Spirit of the Highest
to a virgin meek came down,
Mary bore the Lord’s Anointed,
through the cross to claim His crown
weakness shouldered, man enfolded,
Adam’s flesh became His gown.
Adam’s flesh became His gown.

Earth for Him had groaned and suffered,
since the ages first began;
faithful men who longed to see Him
now beheld the Promised One
God’s Salvation, Son of David,
Son of God and Son of Man,
Son of God and Son of Man.

And here’s a version that departs even further from the original.  Here’s one to that well known meter: 447 447 44447!

In other words it’s to the tune of Infant Holy, Infant Lowly which I love (Youtube of tune).

World awaiting, fallen, fainting,
Certain hope with mingled fear;
Hard the dying, long the sighing,
‘Surely, Lord, the day is near;
Come Messiah, Earth’s Desire,
Hope of nations, generations,
Speed the hour when you appear,
Speed the hour when you appear!’

Dead in Adam, Israel barren,
where the Lord shall claim His own.
God’s elected, yet rejected,
under curse and law they groan.
Sin abounding, hope confounding,
Wisdom darkened, hating, hardened,
In our pit He made His home,
In our pit He made His home.

Spirit sending, Christ descending,
To a virgin, meek came down.
To exchange a throne for manger,
Through the cross to claim His crown,
Sorrows sharing, burdens bearing,
Weakness shouldered, man enfolded,
Adam’s flesh became His gown.
Adam’s flesh became His gown.

Jacob’s story, stooping glory,
To retrace the path we trod,
Heaven’s Dearest, coming near us,
Bearing Man back home to God.
Loving Neighbour, Prince and Saviour,
Priest and Ransom, Brother, Champion,
Son of Man and Son of God,
Son of Man and Son of God.

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Well it’s nearly Advent so it’s time for preachers to think about Carols services, Christingles, Nativity plays, etc.

It’s also a time to miss a golden opportunity.  The golden opportunity is to preach a theology of incarnation.  But, year in and year out, this chance is missed in evangelical churches.

Our mentions of incarnation boil down to the Abrupt, the Apologetic or the Anselmian.

The Abrupt:

“God in skin. Weird huh? Anyway…”

The Apologetic:

“Jesus shows up in time and space which means that we can verify the truth through historical methods, and really the New Testament documents are very reliable don’t you know…”

The Anselmian:

“God basically wants to acquit his elect and so needs a Scapegoat to take the fall. And there he is the manger. Weird huh?  Anyway…”

Where are the Athanasian, Atoning, Abasing themes?

The Athanasian Incarnation:

“In this marvellous exchange, He becomes what we are, that we might become what He is”?

The Atoning Incarnation:

“Here is God-With-Us, making us at-one in His very Person!”

The Abasing Incarnation:

My God is so small, so weak and so helpless, there’s nothing that He will not do… for you!

I wonder if we shy away from the Athanasian incarnation because we don’t want to get into (or don’t properly understand) the trinitarian theology that makes sense of it.

I wonder if we shy away from the Atoning incarnation because ontology has no place in our thinking about atonement.  (This is also why our Easter sermons contain no theology of resurrection – only a ‘proof that the cross worked’.)

I wonder if we shy away from the Abasing incarnation because we’re wedded to a theology of glory that refuses to countenance the little LORD Jesus.

If any of these guesses are anywhere near the mark, let me suggest a remedy.  Read Athanasius’ On the Incarnation and hear the kind of Christmas message that has warmed the hearts of millions down through the ages.  Get started here as you listen to Mike Reeves read extracts.

And for what they’re worth, here are three of my own posts on incarnation:

Incarnation and Trinity

Incarnation and Creation

Incarnation and Salvation

(For good measure here’s a paper on Athanasius and Irenaeus)

These are some talks in which I’ve tried to preach this theology…


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

The Coming King – Psalm 72

In the beginning… – John 1:1-2

The Word became flesh – John 1:14

Christmas brings a crisis – John 1:15-18

Student Carols – Isaiah 9

Evangelistic carols service – Light shining in darkness – Isaiah 9:2-7 (different to the other Isaiah 9)

Luke 1:26-38

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

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


Here are some songs on the same theme and the Anti-Santy video


What resources have you found helpful?  Please share the wealth in comments…

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My God Is So Small (Christmas vs A Theology of Glory)


Rising Sun (Luke 1:78-79)


Good News of Great Joy (Luke 2:10)


How Long O Lord Till Christmas (Christmas in OT)


Fell Down A Hole (A Theology of Incarnation)


From the Squalor (for guitar)


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For Thawed Out Thursdays, I thought I’d show you a couple of older videos that gave rise to an exciting new video, released only today

First there was this extract from a sermon…

Then, the following year, we hastily filmed a poetic version. The sound didn’t work at the time, which is why we had to dub the voice later…

And today 10ofThose have just released a kinetic-typographied version…

Please share it on Facebook and/or use it in your Christmas services this year.

And sorry to jump the Christmas gun!!

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Here’s one for the Christmas services and outreach…

And stay tuned for an update of the Anti-Santy Ranty….

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Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins

Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women

My soul doth magnify the Lord

She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

Mine eyes have seen thy salvation

Behold, there came wise men from the east

Gold and frankincense and myrrh

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