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5th December 2021


For following songs: CCLI License Nr. 2251540

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Come Now is the Time to Worship


Come now is the time to worship

Come now is the time to give your heart

Come just as you are to worship

Come just as you are before your God


Verse 1

One day every tongue

Will confess You are God

One day every knee will bow

Still the greatest treasure remains

For those who gladly choose You now

Verse 2

Willingly we choose to surrender our lives

Willingly our knees will bow

With all our heart soul mind and strength

We gladly choose You now

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Here I am to Worship

Verse 1

Light of the world

You stepped down into darkness

Opened my eyes let me see

Beauty that made

This heart adore You

Hope of a life spent with You


So here I am to worship

Here I am to bow down

Here I am to say that You're my God

And You're altogether lovely

Altogether worthy

Altogether wonderful to me

Verse 2

King of all days

Oh so highly exalted

Glorious in heaven above

Humbly You came

To the earth You created

All for love's sake became poor


And I'll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

And I'll never know how much it cost

To see my sin upon that cross

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Matthew 2 v 1-12

Christmas can be like Marmite, most people love it, but there are some who really hate it. But whether you love it or hate it, (or perhaps you hate what it has become), we can say with some degree of certainty that it is not properly understood.  

If you were to ask people what we celebrate at Christmas, many would rightly say that we celebrate the birth of Jesus? However, if you were to ask, ‘what are the implications of Jesus’ birth? Or how should it, or how has it affected or changed their lives?, we would probably get a lot of questioning looks!!!  

A lot of people are inclined to think about Christmas in the same way as they would view a Hans Christian Anderson story. It has a kind of ‘fairy tale’ feel about it. However, when you tear away all they myths and misunderstandings that surrounds the Christmas story, we discover a story that will perhaps disturb, challenge and expose the priorities by which we have chosen to live.

When we turn to the New Testament and try to grasp what really happened, we will discover that the story of Jesus’ birth exposes what kind of relationship we have with him.  Christmas is an opportunity for us to ask ourselves ‘How am I treating Jesus?’  Perhaps we have turned the Christmas story into a fairytale which doesn’t make any demands of us, nor does it challenge our thinking?

So as we unpack this part of the Christmas story, we are going to examine how we are relating to Jesus in the here and now.

As we go through our passage this morning we need to ask ourselves, ‘What kind of relationship do I have with Jesus?’ Every one of us relates to Jesus in some way. Every one of us responds to, and treats Jesus in some way.  No matter who we are we have an opinion about Jesus, and we have all decided what kind of relationship we want to have with him. Hopefully as we look at the people in the story and how they related to Jesus, we can see who we’re most like and what if any changes we need to make.

1. Herod.

He was threatened by Jesus.

Matthew places the birth of Jesus in a political context, Matthew wants his readers to see that Jesus as King. So in chapter 2 he introduces Jesus as king of the Jews. When Herod heard this he was deeply disturbed. The word Matthew uses tarassō, was a very emotional word which carries the idea of acute mental distress, disquiet, to make restless, it literally means to shake back and forth.  So what is going on here?

Let me tell you a few things about Herod. He was named king of the Jews by the Roman Senate in 40 B. C. By 37 B. C. he had crushed, with the help of Roman forces, all opposition to his rule. He was wealthy, politically gifted, intensely loyal, an excellent administrator, and clever enough to remain in the good graces of successive Roman emperors. His famine relief was superb and his building projects (including the temple, begun 20 B.C.) were admired even by his foes.

But he loved power, he inflicted incredibly heavy taxes on the people, and resented the fact that many Jews considered him a usurper. In his last years, suffering an illness that compounded his paranoia, he turned to cruelty and in fits of rage and jealousy killed close associates, his wife Mariamne and at least two of his sons. Caesar once said it was better to be Herod’s pig than his son.

Here is the point, Herod understood if Jesus was born King of the Jews, then he could not be King of the Jews, so his control, power and position was threatened. He was terrified of not being in control. For him power and position were essential, so he would go to any length to protect his throne and kingdom.

We might not like to admit it, but there is something of Herod in all of us. We  may not be cruel like him but we want to be in control, we want to be king of our lives.

However, the message of Christmas is, ‘You cannot be king/queen, you cannot be in control.’ The message of Christmas is that Jesus is King, not me, not you.

Like Herod we develop subtle and almost in-perceptible ways of holding onto our thrones. There are four things that Herod did in his attempt to eradicate the threat he was feeling.

a. He was motivated by his emotions.

Herod allowed his emotions to control his thinking and determine his actions. He was paranoid and irrational. As we have seen he was in acute mental distress. There is in verse 4 something that we don’t pick up in our English translations. When we are told that he asked the teacher of the law, where the Messiah was  to be born, it would be better understood that he kept on asking and asking and asking. There was a sense of panic and paranoia. Paranoia is very debilitating, and will always keep a person from truly worshipping Jesus, because it produces within a person a fear that ensures that they become the centre of their universe. There will always be a need to protect whatever is under threat, in this case Herod's throne.

b. He made plans in secret.

Look at verse 7. ‘Herod called for a private meeting.’ There was a duplicity, a hidden agenda about Herod, but even worse, he wanted to involved others in his duplicity.  Herod must had been very convincing because God had to warn the men of Herods evil plan. There is always something intrinsically deceitful in the act of trying to keep control, or when we strive to hold onto a position of power or prestige.

c. He needed to lie in order to secure his objective.

‘When you find him come back and tell me so I can worship him.’ This was the use of spiritual language to express a bare face lie. He was hiding behind a claim that he wanted to worship Jesus.

d. He lashed out at others.

Read verses 16-18. He was furious and innocent baby boys lost their lives. The thing is, sometimes the fear of loosing control can cause us to lash out at others causing them to suffer. We may not be cruel and barbaric like Herod. But sometimes when we are feeling threatened and not in control of our circumstances, we can lash out at others. When our ‘thrones’ are threatened we can go into fight mode to protect our lordship over our own lives.

2. The Magi

 The “Magi” are not easily identified with precision. They were thought to be a class of royal court officials who were consulted when the king needed divine guidance. They were known as a priestly caste of Medes who enjoyed special power to interpret dreams. Daniel (Dan 1:20; 2:2; 4:7; 5:7) refers to magoi in the Babylonian Empire. In later centuries down to NT times, the term loosely covered a wide variety of men interested in dreams, astrology, magic, books thought to contain mysterious references to the future, and the like.

They played both political and religious roles and were figures of some prominence in their land. Some Magi honestly inquired after truth; many were rogues and charlatans.

The important thing about the Magi in Matthew’s story is that they had a consuming desire to worship Jesus. Could it be that Matthew records this story first to teach us what is really means to appropriately respond to Jesus? This is the first time we read about worship in the New Testament. The word ‘proskyneo’ worship means to express in attitude or gesture, one’s complete dependence on, or submission to a high authority figure. (fall down and) worship, be obedient to, to prostrate oneself before, to welcome respectfully. These wise men knew that if they were every going to have a life changing encounter with Jesus they would need a heart that longed to worship Jesus. Lets notice a few things about their worship.

a. Their heart for worship meant they lived lives that were the complete opposite to Herod and all he stood for. As we have seen Herod lived a life that was motivated by the selfishness of his paranoia. These wise men, on the other hand were very eager to meet with Jesus.

b. The heart of worship was intentional.

‘We have come to worship Him.’ Do you realise that we worship Jesus as much or as little as we want to? If we reduce worship to coming to church and singing then we will never worship properly, not even if we come to church and sing songs. Worship can only be a heart attitude that will lead to a life of total surrender. Jesus deserves and expects nothing less. This is the message of Christmas.  I wonder if we worship Jesus in this way?

c. Their worship meant that they had to leave the darkness of the past. In all probability these men were involved in the dark crafts of the occult, so the journey they made to see Jesus was as much spiritual as it was geographical. There is one thing we can be certain about, if they had stayed where they where, they would have never worshipped Jesus. This was not an easy journey, geographically it was between 800-1000 miles. Spiritually, it was light years.

d. Their worship meant they had the faith to humble themselves. As they came into the house they saw Jesus. who was probably a toddler at the time, and they prostrated themselves before him. This was a holy moment, this was the greatest moment in the lives of these wise men, as they lay with their faces in the ground before the King of the universe embodied in the physical frame of a toddler.

e. Their worship was costly, or was it? We know that they gave Jesus treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We know that these are very costly, however, this kind of worship does not measure its giving in terms of cost, even if it is costly. This kind of worship thinks in terms of privilege not cost. Worship says, ‘Lord it is a totally undeserved honour and wonderful privilege for me to bow in worship before you and give you all that I am and have.’

3. The Religious Leaders

Thirdly, let us mention one more group of people. The leading priests and the teacher of the religious law. I think these are in some ways the worst characters in our story. They were religious people who knew their scriptures, they knew God’s plans and God’s promises, yet they had no heart for Jesus. As we know, Jesus was born in Bethlehem five miles from Jerusalem however, we have no record of them ever going to find Him or bowing down in worship before him.

We live in a country where lots of people are brought up in Christian homes, they are taught the scriptures, they go to church. They may profess to be  Christian. But if we could see inside their hearts we might discover that they are more like the religious leaders than like the wise men. They have no real desire for God, they really don’t grasp the wonder of worship, and maybe at times they are like Herod, feeling a bit threatened by Jesus. I hope this advent we find ourselves challenged by the Christmas story.     

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The Heart of Worship

Verse 1

When the music fades all is stripped away

And I simply come

Longing just to bring something that's of worth

That will bless Your heart


I'll bring You more than a song

For a song in itself is not what You have required

You search much deeper within

Through the way things appear

You're looking into my heart


I'm coming back to the heart of worship

And it's all about You all about You Jesus

I'm sorry Lord for the thing I've made it

When it's all about You all about You Jesus

Verse 2

King of endless worth no one could express

How much You deserve

Though I'm weak and poor all I have is Yours

Ev'ry single breath

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Mighty To Save

Verse 1

Ev’ryone needs compassion

Love that's never failing

Let mercy fall on me

Ev’ryone needs forgiveness

The kindness of a Saviour

The hope of nations


Saviour He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever Author of salvation

He rose and conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave

Verse 2

So take me as You find me

All my fears and failures

Fill my life again

I give my life to follow

Ev’rything I believe in

Now I surrender


Shine your light and let the whole world see

We're singing

For the glory of the risen King


Shine your light and let the whole world see

We're singing

For the glory of the risen King

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King of Kings

Verse 1

In the darkness we were waiting

Without hope without light

Till from Heaven You came running

There was mercy in Your eyes

To fulfil the law and prophets

To a virgin came the Word

From a throne of endless glory

To a cradle in the dirt


Praise the Father

Praise the Son

Praise the Spirit three in one

God of Glory


Praise forever to the King of kings

Verse 2

To reveal the kingdom coming

And to reconcile the lost

To redeem the whole creation

You did not despise the cross

For even in Your suffering

You saw to the other side

Knowing this was our salvation

Jesus for our sake You died

Verse 3

And the morning that You rose

All of heaven held its breath

Till that stone was moved for good

For the Lamb had conquered death

And the dead rose from their tombs

And the angels stood in awe

For the souls of all who'd come

To the Father are restored

Verse 4

And the Church of Christ was born

Then the Spirit lit the flame

Now this Gospel truth of old

Shall not kneel shall not faint

By His blood and in His Name

In His freedom I am free

For the love of Jesus Christ

Who has resurrected me

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

Verse 1

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

Verse 2

O morning stars together

Proclaim the holy birth

And praises sing to God the King

And peace upon the earth

For Christ is born of Mary

And gathered all above

While mortals sleep the angels keep

Their watch of wond'ring love

Verse 3

How silently how silently

The wondrous gift is giv'n

So God imparts to human hearts

The blessings of His heav'n

No ear may hear His coming

But in this world of sin

Where meek souls will receive Him still

The dear Christ enters in

Verse 4

O holy Child of Bethlehem

Descend to us we pray

Cast out our sin and enter in

Be born in us today

We hear the Christmas angels

The great glad tidings tell

O come to us abide with us

Our Lord Emmanuel

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Closing Prayer