Welcome (Luke 2:22-40)
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
     according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.’
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Preparation: Arise! Your light has come

Call to Worship (Isaiah 61:10-62:3)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
  my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
  he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
  and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
  and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
  to spring up before all the nations.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
  and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
  and her salvation like a burning torch.
The nations shall see your vindication,
  and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
  that the mouth of the Lord will give.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
  and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

Hymns: All creatures of our God and King

Prayer (from the Common Lectionary)

God of glory,
your splendor shines from a manger in Bethlehem,
where the Light of the world is humbly born
into the darkness of human night.
Open our eyes to Christ's presence in the shadows of our world,
so that we, like him, may become beacons of your justice,
and defenders of all for whom there is no room. Amen.

Scripture: Galatians 4:4-7

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Sermon: Why we celebrate Christmas every year

On the last day of the calendar year, the first thing to note from this passage is that Paul speaks of the fullness of time. How are we to understand this fullness of time? What does this fullness of time mean? Does it mean that as the clock hits midnight tonight, 2023 comes to an end and the fullness of 2023 is what we are facing? At least with a given year, we know where it begins and ends. But when Paul says the fullness of time, what does it mean?

Paul isn't talking about the end of time. He is also not referring to reaching a particular moment in time. By the fullness, he is thinking more in terms of a bottle getting fully filled or our hunger being fully satiated. There is no reason to think the time has stopped because it has reached its fullness. In this particular sense of the history that began with God choosing the people of Israel the time has now come to be full with the arrival of the Son. That is, the point of salvation is now reached. There is no longer the need to search for salvation anywhere else. The salvation for the people of Israel and through the creation is now fully realized.

Paul is now saying that with the full realization of salvation through Christ, those who are in him live in this fullness of time or in this new creation in a very different life than those who are living alongside them outside of the time of salvation. This is where Christians’ understanding of living in the world, but not of the world becomes real. We are living in the world as God’s people saved through Christ and enjoying the life that is only possible when our time is full. That is, our time is now part of life eternal. It is lived in this worldly time, but we live embodying eternal life.

This is why Paul reminds us that we are no longer slaves. Our term as slaves of this world is now over. In this fullness of time, we now belong to God, not to the world. Paul makes it clear by saying that Jesus, too, was born under the law just like us. That is, there is no reason to think of Jesus as one who is so apart from us that he ought to be thought of as a total stranger to us. Jesus did not enjoy any privilege and was not so unlike us. Jesus was just like any of us. It is important for all to know how human Jesus was. Because through his life, death and resurrection, he has made the fullness of time to be ours as well.

Here, Paul is making us rethink the need for Jesus to come. Remembering Jesus at every Christmas as a baby born of a woman changes the whole concept of what it means to believe in Jesus. Christians insist on the full humanity of Christ. If Christ was not like us, then, what we believe falls apart. In other words, being redeemed from this world we enter into salvation as fully human, not less. LIke a prisoner finishing his term, our term of slavery is over. We are totally free in the sense that we are no longer under the rules of governments, kings, or any other authority that is not of God. In a way also, Christians are not under other Christians. In the fullness of time, or in the time of salvation each human person lives fully as God intended that person to be in total freedom under God.

Of course, there needs to be discussions on what it means to live in total freedom as well and exercise our free will. However, these are topics for other discussions. Today we are focusing our attention on this understanding of what it means to live in the fullness of time.

Have you ever wondered why the early Christians were not afraid of dying? When threatened with death by Roman authorities and were thrown into Colosseums with wild animals or hung on crosses to be burned and when claiming to be Christians meant sure death in various parts of the world throughout history? Why would Christains insist on holding onto their faith especially when they were told that denying Christ would spare their lives? Why did Christians risk their lives when giving up their faith would have saved them?

The fullness of time helps us to know what true life is about. In it threats of life are no longer feared. The power of death is no more. All fears are cast out by God’s love that was shown in Jesus Christ. Living without fear, those who are in Christ knows that life in Christ’s presence is what we enjoy. Life without Christ, on the other hand, is not life in the fullness of time. In a way we find more and more people are straddling between the secular time that is moving towards its end and the Christian time which is full here and now as they try their best to be spiritual without being religious.

To those who are outside of or in faith not fully, it is very mysterious that Christians are not afraid of dying and in some cases are able to rejoice while they are being put to death or put under severe painful suffering. That is because we no longer fear death. We are already living the life of salvation where death has no meaning. It has been defeated. In other words, because we belong to Christ in life and in death, we know that as we enjoy the fullness of time, we are already in Christ living through death into the resurrection life. That is why we do not fear death.

The reason for celebrating Christmas each year is to remember that the coming of Christ signifies the fullness of time and that those who have been baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are now living in the fullness of time with him, in him and because of him. For us to enjoy this life in the fullness of time is due to God whose love sent Jesus who was born of a woman. In this sense our current life is to manifest the fullness of life that is only possible in Jesus who was fully human when he was among his people and is now with us.

Of course, all these high minded thoughts are expressed simply. Jesus came to show us that we are to call God, “Abba” or Our Father as he does. This simple expression of a child captures our relationship to God. This is only possible because Jesus came. This is only possible because in Jesus’ birth we see how God reorients his relationship with us. We are no longer those servants fit for punishments for wrong doings or creatures who are created simply to do God’s commands only in our lives, but children who receive forgiveness in love and are nurtured to live as we are created to be. It reminds us that as children who are loved by a parent as God’s children we may explore, understand and live fully in life that never ends.

Yes, celebrating Christmas each year re-establish our relationship with God as our Father. With the coming of our Lord as a child born of a woman we come to this fullness of being God’s children, not just children intended to be God’s someday, but as God’s children now. Our walk with Christ, then, is always with our Father everywhere we go, knowing that our Father’s steadfast love never fails us. So each year, we sing all those Christmas hymns to praise and give glory to our Father and know who we are in Christ Jesus our Lord and God our Father.


Nurturing God,
remembering the exile of the holy family
and Herod's slaughter of the children,
we remember all who need our sustaining love.
Hear our prayers for the church and the community in the world.

More than any other year, we come to remember your children in Palestine. As we celebrate Christmas, once again Palestine is filled with cries of people as so many of your children were and are being killed. Our hearts ache over these children’s death as we remember how so many children were killed with the birth of Jesus. We feel powerless and sad. We are overwhelmed with the cries rising due to the deaths of so many of your children. Hear our prayer as their cries rising up to your ears.

In our world we talk of peace, but there is no peace. We talk of the world that ought to be, but we are far from the world that should be as a place filled with love and peace where lives flourish. When we talk about fullness of life, we witness death and destruction all around us. The power of death no longer is contained but has spread even to the very places where we worship you. Those merchants of death no longer feel shame as they extend their power over your children everywhere. Be with your children. Hear their cries, fears and terror filled voices. Give us courage to be their voices. Give us strength of both mind and body to stand on your side extending hands to those who are being killed.

As we put another calendar year behind us, we pray by remembering sins we as the world have been mired in. Wars, poverty, inhumanity and evil have taken so much of our attention in these past twelve months. In the meantime, we learned to welcome, share and love less with those coming to us as we prepare for a weakening economy, higher inflation, evermore threatening environmental changes. Forgive our indifference to the sufferings of our neighbours. Forgive our sole attention on our own survival and well being. Forgive our inhumanity by which we carried on our daily businesses. With your forgiveness, make us new and help us to be more like Jesus in this coming year.

Many among us are sick. We remember before you Ron and Linda as they work on Ron’s recovery. We also pray for so many of our own who have not been able to worship with us: Eva, Wayne, Lily, Katalin, Joan, Joan’s nephew Chuck, Dick, Phyllis, Alice, Virginia  and many others. Continue to be also with Donna, Brian, Bob and others. Do not forget all who come to make home here. Bless them all with your Spirit.

In you, we lift up all the said and unsaid prayers. Hear our prayers that reside in the depths of our hearts. (Silence)

Grant that all people may hear together the song of joy,
and find their homes in the garden of justice and hope,
that we may experience the fullness of life,
which is your will for all,
in the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Offering/Offering Prayer

Announcements and Thanks

We thank you all for being part of Drummond Hill communion. So much has happened this year. You have been loyal and faithful. Thank you for worshipping and building this community of God’s people.

We thank all those musicians who have helped us worship throughout the year.

We thank all those who have led and served God and God’s people.

Hymn: Come thou almighty King