Christmas Eve Address

Rev. James P. Cooper
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

First Lesson:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. {19} Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public ex-ample, was minded to put her away secretly. {20} But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. {21} “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” {22} So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: {23} “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” {24} Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, {25} and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

(Luke 2:1-7) And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. {2} This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. {3} So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. {4} Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, {5} to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. {6} So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. {7} And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Second Lesson:

(Luke 2:8-20) Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. {9} And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. {10} Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. {11} “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. {12} “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” {13} And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: {14} “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace to men of goodwill!” {15} So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” {16} And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. {17} Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. {18} And all those who heard it marvelled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. {19} But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. {20} Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

(Mat 2:1-12) Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, {2} saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” {3} When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. {4} And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. {5} So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: {6} ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” {7} Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, deter-mined from them what time the star appeared. {8} And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” {9} When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. {10} When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. {11} And when they had come in-to the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. {12} Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Amen.

Christmas Eve Address
by the Rev. James P. Cooper

The Lord came into the world in the fullness of times, which was when He was no longer known by the Jews, and when, consequently, there was nothing of the church left; and unless He had then come into the world and revealed Himself, mankind would have perished in eternal death. As He Himself says in John:  “Except you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins” (JOH 8:24).  (LORD 3)
I.    We don’t actually know the date of the Lord’s birth into the world.

A.    Some people have observed that shepherds only have had their flocks in the fields at night, rather than in the safety of the sheepfold, during the spring lambing season.
B.    Some scholars think that since the early leaders of the church didn’t know the actual date, they decided to celebrate His birth at the end of December so that it would be at the same time as a traditional Roman festival so they would get more people involved and perhaps even introduce them to the church.
1.    Well, maybe those were the natural reasons that people agreed to it – but perhaps the Lord led them to settle that date for other, hidden reasons.
C.    Whatever the date on the calendar may have been, the Lord chose the time of His birth ac-cording to the states of the spiritual world, coming when human states were so low that unless something drastic had happened, the spiritual life of all living beings was in question.
1.    Spiritually, it was the “darkest” day.
2.    So too, we have been led by the Divine Providence to celebrate Christmas about the time of the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year, the darkest day of the year, was just a few days ago. From now until June the days will get gradually longer as plants emerge from the earth, flower, and produce fruit, and life returns to the world.
3.    The Lord came into the world to reverse the process of spiritual death, and create a spiritual environment where we could be free to choose between spiritual life or death for ourselves.
4.    The Lord came into the world to execute a Last Judgement, and thereby to subdue the existing dominance of the hells; which was effected by means of combats (that is, temptations) admitted into his maternal human, and the attendant continual victories; for unless the hells had been subjugated no man could have been saved.

II.    How could the hells rise up and fight against Jeho-vah God above the highest heaven?

A.    Of course, they couldn’t, so He clothed Himself with a human form and human limitations so that the hells could approach without being destroyed, their temptations admitted and overcome, and so put them back into order.
1.    These temptation began as soon as He be-came consciously aware of His life in the human form, and continued throughout His life in the world.
2.    He prepared Himself for these battles by reading the Word, for within the Word was contained, in the internal sense, the instruc-tions He needed to prepare Himself for the battles to come.
a.    This also requires that He be taught how to read the scriptures for Himself, as soon as possible.
B.    Now since God came down, and since He is Order itself, it was necessary, in order for Him actually to become Man, that He should be conceived, carried in the womb, and be born; and that He should be educated, acquiring in due course the knowledge by which He might attain to intelligence and wisdom. Therefore as to His Humanity He was an infant like any other infant, a boy like any other boy, and so on; but with this sole difference, that He passed through those progressive states sooner, more fully and more perfectly than others .
C.    This was done because the Divine order is that a man should prepare himself for the reception of God; and as he prepares himself so God enters into him, as into His own dwelling-place and home. Such preparation is effected by means of the knowledge of God and of the spiritual things belonging to the Church, and thus by intelligence and wisdom. For it is a law of order that so far as a man approaches and draws near to God, which he must do entirely as of himself, so far God approaches and draws near to him, and interiorly conjoins Himself to him. The Lord advanced to complete union with His Father according to this order.

III.    We come together each year to celebrate the Lord’s birth into the world.

A.    As we visit with family and friends, as we come to church, let us keep part of our minds turned to the incredible love the Lord must have for us, that He would willingly do these things for us. AMEN

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