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2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Page 3 Table of Contents Lights Good News Are We the Innkeepers? Gifts With Malice Toward None, With Charity For All Inside View of the Incarnation Holiday Worship Schedule 4| 6 | 8 | 10 | 14 | 18 | 22 |
Page 4 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 By Pastor Greg Wooten, Hope Chapel Well, we did it. The weather was so warm and pleasant in the second week in November that we put up our outdoor Christmas decorations a couple of weeks early. I was really surprised when my wife told me to go ahead and turn them on. I didn’t hesitate. Our cozy little vignette has been adding a bit of light to our corner of the neighborhood since November 10th. Before anyone condemns me for blowing right past Thanksgiving, please understand that I love everything about that holiday – the food, the football, and especially the One to whom all thanks is due – I’m in! But one of the things I love about Christmas is the lights that make everything seem a little brighter. As dark as the world can be, light is a real blessing. Who hasn’t wept over the darkness of Russia invading Ukraine? Or Hamas attacking Israel and the bloodshed that has ensued since? Has your heart broken over the darkness surrounding acts of gun violence and incessant political finger-pointing every time a news report breaks? Did the darkness threaten to overtake you the last time you shielded your eyes as you walked past a homeless person Light and wondered how? Why? What can one person do? Do you feel in the dark every time you hear about a child dying of a disease that should never afflict anyone, especially one so young? Just driving around our community a few days ago, I was overwhelmed with an almost palpable sense of darkness. To see a cherished place that once brought the light of dignity to combat the darkness associated with illness and aging closed and lifeless brought me pain. Knowing an institution that has faithfully trained young women and men to shine God’s light, will soon be shuttered and vacant brought tears. And, as one of those evangelical types, darkness floods in every time I see a new business coming to town that profits from alcohol, gambling, or cannabis. Darkness is remarkably pervasive. It’s so overwhelming at times that it gets tempting to blow out the candle and head for home. But this time of year, reminders are everywhere that the Light of the world came to us! The depth of our darkness didn’t discourage Him or deter Him. He was determined to bring the light of life and salvation to anyone who would follow Him. Christmas lights remind me that because Jesus came, it’s only a matter of time until He comes again to banish darkness forever. Until then, true believers, don’t let your light go out. Lincoln needs you to shine more than ever! “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5, New International Version) Continued --
2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Page 5 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:9-13, New International Version) “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Page 6 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Pastor Larry Crawford, Open Arms Church “No news is good news”…you have probably heard someone say that phrase and maybe even said it yourself. Perhaps it is true in the waiting room while a loved one is in surgery or when you are awaiting test results, and they tell you if you don’t hear from us everything is good. But what about when it is not? Those moments of uncertainty when you have more questions than answers. Or those moments when you desperately need an answer…something and the silence is deafening? The world was waiting for 400 years…what we call the “silent years”, the time between the Old Testament and the New Testament. God, where are you?...crickets. Then the announcement came. “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be to all people.” (Luke 2:10) What?!? Good News. The very first Christmas was announced, and it was coming with Good News…the best news! The world sure needed some good news then…and it really needs it now. Christmas is all about Good News. “Bah humbug you say.” Actually, without Christmas, there would be no Good News. Let me take a moment of your time and share with you some real-life stories where Good Good News! News was experienced and then give you an invitation to come experience it for yourself. I just returned from a mission trip in Lima, Peru where so many experienced the Good News I am writing about. Let me take a moment to share about a young lady who experienced the Good News of a Fresh Start, a second chance, a new beginning. As I was praying for people at the altar, the Lord gave me a word for her from Him. As I shared the word, she wept holding on to my hand as one holding on for dear life as she experienced the healing power of Jesus healing deep wounds from the past and giving her a fresh start. Recently Wendy and I were in the waiting room of a hospital with some dear friends as one of their family members, a precious friend of ours was in surgery to remove an aneurysm. So many had been praying for a miracle…for Good News. The doctor came out and said, “the man upstairs must have been listening. I took over 50 photos from every angle and THERE IS NO ANEURYSM! It is a miracle!” A few Sundays ago as I was greeting people in the lobby after church a mom and daughter came to me with tears in their eyes and joy on their face. We want to get baptized! They experienced the Good News of Salvation that day and were baptized the next Sunday! For some, this time of year is a difficult time. It is all you can do to make it through the holidays, not even thinking it possible to actually enjoy them. I have Good News for Continued --
2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Page 7 you and it comes with a personal invitation. We would love to share Good News with you each Sunday (10 a.m.) of December. • December 3 – Good News to those who are Fearful – in a world full of war and uncertainty, you can experience the Peace you have always longed for. • December 10 – Good News to those who are Sad, depressed, discouraged…and feel you just don’t know if you can make it – Christmas can be a very difficult time for many – 1st time without a loved one; not enough money to buy presents or travel to be with family; unresolved conflict between family or friends…just sad • December 17 – Good News for those who are Anxious – worried about the future… worried about kids…overwhelmed. • December 24 – Good News to those who Feel Alone – no one to share the holidays with…or even in a room full of people still feeling alone I am so thankful God broke the Silence with Good News of Great Joy for ALL PEOPLE… yes ALL, that means you. This Christmas come experience the GOOD NEWS!
Page 8 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Pastor Ron Otto, Lincoln Christian Church My favorite Thanksgiving Meal moment: “Did you save room for dessert?” My response? “I’ll make room.” (Can I get an Amen?) We have a strong history of making room for things we enjoy or are important. We do it when we value someone or something. I’m wondering about how we will make room for Jesus this Christmas. Christmas isn’t even here yet and its already looking so crowded with so many plans and so many places to be that if not careful, we might miss the chance to make room for the real reason for Christmas: Jesus. It’s curious to me that a world made by Jesus and held together by Jesus is too crowded for him? How can a holiday made to celebrate Jesus suddenly have no room for Jesus? We’ve been told there’s no room for Jesus in our schools, in our workplaces, in our government. Somehow, Jesus gets in the way? Is that how you feel? It’s easy to judge the leaders of Israel from 2000 years ago for not making room for Jesus in their world! But what about us? A miracle is knocking at the door and we’re suddenly the inn keeper? “Sorry, no room.” Jesus made room for us…will we make room for him? Join us this December as we discover how to make room for Jesus all next year. From all of us at Lincoln Christian Church, Merry Christmas! Are we the innkeepers?
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Page 10 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Michael V. Mallick, Jefferson Street Christian Church In Matthew 2:1-12 it says that Magi visited Jesus and their purpose in coming was to worship Him. There is much debate as to who these Magi really were. Many have called them wise men or kings. Some have suggested they were priests or astrologers from the Middle East. What we do know is these wise men brought gifts to Jesus of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. And these gifts were not only appropriate gifts for a king, but each one also carried special prophetic significance. For instance, gold was a very precious metal. Symbolically, it represented purity and great worth. And in thinking about gold – Exodus 25 details that almost everything in the temple was made of gold or plated with this precious metal. And so, what we learn from the magi’s gift of gold is that it honored Jesus as a king. The Magi came to acknowledge Jesus as the One whose sovereignty began before His birth (Matthew 2:2). Another gift given to Jesus was Frankincense. Now according to Merriam-Webster Frankincense is, “a fragrant gum resin from trees of a genus (Boswellia of the family Burseraceae) of Somalia and southern coastal Arabia that is an important incense resin and has been used in religious rites, perfumery, and embalming.” When exposed to air, the sap hardens into a solid that burns easily and incense/frankincense was a key ingredient used in Hebrew worship (Exodus 30:33-36 and Leviticus 2:1-3). That is why this gift of frankincense, because of its role in temple worship, prophesied of Jesus’ role as our high priest. Myrrh, like frankincense, is the dried sap of certain trees. Transportation costs made both substances very expensive. Webster says myrrh is “a yellowish-brown to reddishbrown aromatic gum resin with a bitter slightly pungent taste obtained from a tree (especially Commiphora abyssinica of the family Burseraceae) of eastern Africa Continued --
2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Page 11 and Arabia.” Myrrh was an ingredient in perfumes and incense in ancient times. It was valued for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities. In fact, to this day, myrrh is found in salve, mouthwash, and toothpaste. Myrrh was used to mask the odor of decay and in the first Century myrrh was sprinkled on burial cloths which were wrapped around the deceased. And prophetically, myrrh speaks of the sacrifice Jesus would make to cleanse the world of sin. It foretells His role as Savior (Matthew 2:2). In Mark 14:3-8 we are told that in Bethany, a woman anointed Jesus with pure nard, an ointment in which myrrh was a primary ingredient. The magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh were appropriate gifts given to Jesus and remind us of His true reason for coming. Do you remember the excitement you felt on Christmas as a child? Most likely, the enthusiasm you felt was for the beautifully wrapped packages under the colorfully decorated tree that stirred your curiosity. You picked them up, shook them, and wondered what treasures were inside. And when Christmas day finally arrived, you couldn’t wait to tear them open. Do you still have that same enthusiasm? Do you still get excited thinking about what you’ve been given? Christmas should remind everyone of the most wonderful gift of all—Jesus: - A king who rules the universe and one day will return to reign on earth. - A high priest who intercedes for us so that we can approach God with confidence. - A Savior who sacrificed His life to provide salvation for all who come to Him.
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Page 14 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 With Malice toward None, with Charity for All By Dr. John Castelein When President Lincoln gave our town his name, he also imparted some of his spirit to its inhabitants. That spirit is manifested throughout his entire life and in many of his speeches, but nowhere as clearly expressed as on March 4, 1865, in his magnificent Second Inaugural Address. As the Civil War came to its bloody conclusion, the president showed the nation his heart and called for reconciliation in our wounded nation with these immortal words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all...” We rightly give special tribute to the birthdays of great human beings, and, among them, Abraham Lincoln does indeed rank very high. However, the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas time receives unequaled devotion and reverence. Significantly, Lincoln quotes Jesus twice in this short address (along with other biblical references). I think his profound sufferings as president and his deep reflections on the Will of God throughout the fratricidal war enabled the president to say with our Lord: “Not our will be done but Thy Will be done” (Matt 26:38-42)! In turn, becoming fully human, with all its creaturely limitations (Hebrews 4:15; 5:78), enabled the Lord Jesus to affirm the president’s insight: “The Almighty has His own purposes.” He humbly prayed: “not my will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42). Christmas is about the mysterious juxtaposition of charity and malice! Christmas dramatizes God’s charity toward humanity amid King Herod’s malice toward the children born in Bethlehem (Matt 2:16). Today we read the same stories of vicious slaughter and see Continued --
2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Page 15 the same images of mangled children’s as we watch the war between Israel and Hamas and between Russia and Ukraine. World events, national, and even local developments, convince us that we as individuals alone cannot overcome the evil in the world even when we commit to live lives of love, sacrifice, and benevolence. However, the spirit of Abraham Lincoln in our shared history, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ in our hearts and minds, enable us to contribute to the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth. That is what the angels sang at Jesus’ birth and that we today sing in our worship: “Glory to God in the highest; good will to men!” (Luke 2:14). For many years I have lived in Lincoln unaware of the charity of so many of my neighbors. I now have become aware of so much of the goodwill and compassion that guide so many generous people in our town. President Lincoln’s hope that we show malice to none but have charity for all is alive and well in our charitable organizations and fundraising events. While concerned for the health of our town, including the closing of our college and our university, Lincoln would be proud of the sacrifices made by so many to help their neighbors and friends! The Lord Jesus Christ has told us what is good: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Lincoln has told us what is good: “To ease another’s burden is to forget one’s own.” That is the secret at the heart of Christmasgiving! Therefore, more than the bright lights, the festive trees, the joyful carols, the cute cards, and the thoughtful gifts, you and I can celebrate Christmas by exposing and rejecting malice in our intentions toward any and embracing charity and compassion in our intentions for all!
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Page 18 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Pastor Ray Pepple, First Baptist Church, Lincoln You know, it is one thing to say Joseph and Mary came down to Bethlehem; Mary had a baby; the baby was born in Bethlehem; the baby was laid in a manger, wrapped in cloths, because there was no room in the Inn; going on to tell about the shepherds that came, go on a little later and hear the story of the Wise Men and so forth. That is the earthly view. That’s the narrative. That’s the historical story. But the real story of the birth of Jesus is to see it from heaven’s perspective. What was really going on there theologically? That’s what you find in Philippians, chapter 2, more clearly than in any other passage of scripture. So, Philippians, chapter 2 is the theology of the incarnation, whereas Luke 2 is the history of it. Philippians, chapter 2:6-11 is the classic text on the “kenosis”, the self-emptying of Jesus. That is the classic text on the theology of the incarnation – what was actually going on there when that little baby was born, what was going on from heaven’s vantage point. There is a sequence here, and I would like to share the five steps that occurred in the incarnation; five steps as God became man, as God entered the world to be born in Bethlehem. We could say this is the real Christmas story. So, step one – God abandoned a sovereign position. The second person of the Trinity abandoned a sovereign position. Verse 6 says, Inside View of the Incarnation “Although He existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself.” Jesus had all the privileges. No question. All the privileges of glory. And He chose to use the privilege to become a servant to the Father and a Savior to sinners for the sake of sinners and the sake of the glory of the Father. He is like a king who takes off his robes, takes off his crown, comes down off his throne, and puts on the rags of a slave. Secondly, not only did He abandon a sovereign position, He accepted a servant’s place. Verse 7 says, “Having emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant.” He didn’t just look Philippians 2:6-11 Continued --
2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Page 19 like a servant; He really became one. His being even as God was to be a servant. At the moment He divested Himself of the robes of majesty, at the moment He set His crown down and walked out of the throne room, He put on the apron of a servant. He is a servant, according to Isaiah 52:13-14; He is a suffering servant. If anyone was ever a servant, He was a servant. He took upon the inner essence, the very being of a servant. He, the sovereign Master of the universe, became a true servant of God. As truly as He was God, so truly was He a servant of God. Thirdly, He not only abandoned the sovereign position, accepted a servant’s place, He approached a sinful people. This too, is part of His condescension. You could understand that an infinitely holy God would have no desire whatsoever to associate with a sinful people. But having divested Himself of His majesty, having taken on the role of a servant and, more than that, literally having become a servant, His service to the Father was rendered by coming to this sin-cursed planet, approaching a sinful people. That’s what He did. Number four – He adopted a selfless posture. Once He got here, as a man, He could have taken on a number of possible postures in life. He could have chosen any level of society; He could have put Himself in any situation. He could have been born into the families of the highest and best, the greatest and noblest, but He adopted a selfless posture. Verse 8 says, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself.” He ends up in a little carpenter shop, working alongside His father, Joseph, making a yoke for the oxen of a farmer. And He was the One who made the universe. We find Him washing the feet of the twelve disciples, and yet He commands the hosts of two thousand times ten thousand, and thousands and thousands of angels. He adopted a selfless posture. Finally, number five. He humbled Himself. How far down did He go? All the way down to becoming obedient unto death. That was the Father’s will, that He come into the world, and die in the place of sinners. He came down to become shamed, to become cursed. He was made a curse for us it says in Galatians. He received the full fury of the judgment of God upon Him. He came all the way down – all the way down to death. And not just humbled, and not just to death, but look at this – even death on a cross. The apostle Paul, in writing this, descends one more level because nothing was more horrifying, nothing was more ignominious, nothing was more cruel than to be executed Continued --
Page 20 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 on the cross, the worst torture instrument ever dreamed up by anybody. Not only was it painful, but it was shameful. It was reserved for the death of the vilest, the most despised. Hanging there in utter disgrace, humiliation, shame, and nakedness. Death on the cross was a horrible, horrible thing. The added loneliness of Jesus when He said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He came down and humbled Himself. How far down? Even to the point of death. How far down? Even death on the excruciating cross. And so, when that little child was born in Bethlehem, it was the Lord of Heaven abandoning a sovereign position, accepting a servant’s place, approaching a sinful people, adopting a selfless posture, even to death on a cross. So, when we read the narrative in Luke, and we read that Mary gave birth to her baby, we can fill that simple statement with all of this profound, theological reality. That’s why we worship Him. That’s why we adore Him. That’s why we remember His death for us.
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Page 22 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Holiday Worship Schedule St. John United Church of Christ 204 Seventh St. Lincoln, IL 62656 Come and visit us during Advent! Each week we will be celebrating Advent by learning the history of a Christmas hymn or carol. We will light the candles of hope, peace, joy and love on our brand new beautiful Advent wreath made by Brian Pineda. St. John Chimers, Ringers and Singers will be gracing our services throughout the Advent Season. Our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will be at 11:00 pm. Communion will be served and is open to all people. That evening, our choirs will also be filling the air with beautiful music. Our service will be lasting until midnight so we will celebrate that Christ is born! Come and join us for this beautiful service. JeffStreet Christian Church 1700 N. Jefferson St Lincoln, IL 62656 December 3 Christmas Table gift - Wear your ugly Christmas sweater December 5 Open House 4:00-6:00pm hosted by JeffStreet leadership December 10 Dress as a Chriostmas movie character December 17 Christmas Table gift December 24 9:00 & 10:45 Worship Services 4:00pm Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Open Arms Lincoln 1321 IL-10 Lincoln, IL 62656 We hope you will join us as we celebrate the Good News of Jesus this Christmas season! We have service every Sunday morning at 10am. We are praying God’s blessing over you and your family! Dec. 2 Ladies Tea at 10am - a ladies event that includes brunch and an encouraging word. Please sign up for this event at openarmslincoln.com/women. Dec. 10 Get a professional family photo in our Christmas photo booth before or after service. Dec. 17 Free Christmas Cupcakes from Missy’s Sweet Shoppe at our Sunday service at 10am. Dec. 24 Sunday Morning Christmas Service at 10am. Guest House Coiffee will be joining us and serving free drinks. Dec. 24 Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5pm. A social time of Worship, Word and Communion.
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Page 24 2023 Worship Guide LINCOLN DAILY NEWS December 2023 Lincoln Christian Church 204 N McLean St. Lincoln, IL 62656 lincolnchristianchurch.org “Hometown Christmas” Dec. 2nd 4-7pm. There will be carolers, hot chocolate and cookies, horse drawn carriage, Christmas train, Santa’s workshop and crafts and photos with santa. “Celebrate! Christmas’’ - Hope Awakes In Bethlehem will be presented Sunday, Dec. 10th at 8:15, 9:30 and 10:45am in the Fellowship Center. The Student Choir: Good News & Heartsong; Worship Choir & Worship Band will be featured. All are invited to join us. Hope Chapel 2501 Woodlawn Road Lincoln, IL 62656 Dec. 24 Christmas Eve service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Sonrise Fellowship Church of God 601 Pulaski St. Lincoln, IL 62656 Dec 10 10am “A Christmas to believe in” program Dec 24 10am service Dec 31 10am service First Baptist Church 101 Broadway St. Lincoln, IL 62656 December 13 Christmas Program 7:00pm December 24 Regular Sunday Schedule Sunday School 9:00am Sunday Morning Service 10:00am Candlelight Service 7:00pm December 27 No Bible Study or Youth Group December 31 Regular Sunday Schedule Sunday School 9:00am Sunday Morning Service 10:00am
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