Christmas Eve Candlelight Gathering - The Advent Christ Candle - Promises Kept



Scripture Reading:


Revelation 22:6-21

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” 10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.” 12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Advent Reading: Advent Reality - Promises Kept by Dr. Stephen Isaac


The Bible, in its last book, Revelations, ends with a prayer. It is an advent prayer that simply says, "Come, Lord Jesus." It is a prayer that Christians have been praying for twenty centuries, and other than the Lord's Prayer, it is the oldest prayer in Christian history. The apostle Paul quotes the Aramaic version of it in (I Corinthians 16:22), when he closed the letter with the word Maranatha which means; "Our Lord, come". John the apostle, the visionary author of the Book of Revelation hears in the first person promise of Jesus "Surely I am coming soon" in chapter 22:20 by saying, Amen (may it be so) Come Lord Jesus!"


Imagine with me for a minute the persecuted Christians of the second-century church gathered for worship in a crowded room somewhere in or around the ancient city of Rome. In the experiential and historical context of their world they had come to faith in God through hearing Word of the Lord, and through hearing the Word believing in the Gospel of the Good News - Emmanuel - Jesus Christ the Messiah. This Jesus was the one foretold by the ancients - the Savior who promised to return for those who believed in Him. In the short period of about ten years after the death and resurrection of Jesus there were tens of thousands of both Jews and non-Jews world-wide who had confessed Jesus as Lord, and now decades later they were sill awaiting the fulfillment of His promise to return for all who believe. As the Church headed into the second-century the growth and numbers of those coming to faith in Christ and to believe His promise remained staggering! As a result of the exponential growth of Christianity and confessed faith in God, the threat to the godless and immoral ideologies of man became very real and Christians everywhere experienced great persecution and hostility under the rule of Rome. Important to note that during this time persecution came as well as from the non-messianic Jews from Jerusalem who had migrated throughout the entire Mediterranean region. The imperial aggression and persecution against the early Church came to its high point of violence and absurdity under the Emperor Tertullian, whom history would record as saying “If the Tiber rises as high as the city walls, if the Nile does not send its waters up over the fields, if the heavens give no rain, if there is an earthquake, if there is famine or pestilence, straightway the cry is, ‘Away with the Christians to the lion’ ”


Under his reign of terror Christians were frequently arrested, severely beaten, they sporadically had their properties seized and businesses taxed heavily and boycotted. Finally these faith followers would become the focal point of paganistic and sadistic ritual as they were thrown into the arenas of the early coliseums to be mauled by savage beasts or tortured to death for the amusement and pleasure of the elitist class and the entitled masses. This unthinkable way of life was not a single event or one time happening, but rather, it had been part of the Christians way of life for nearly a hundred years. Despised and rejected and yet, thousands continued coming to faith and hope through the message of the Christ child who had grown into manhood only to suffer and die for them so that they might live forever with Him.


What kept these faithful from giving up? Why were there so many still coming to faith in spite of the hardship and suffering that came with it? What was it that made them so fiercely loyal and faithful to their God - a God, in fact, whom they had not even seen? There is only one answer. It was the reality of the Advent promise of Jesus - a Second-Coming, and the hope of a new heaven and new earth to all who believed in Him.


Continue imagine with me the visions of John the Revelator as they were being read aloud to those who faithfully and courageously gathered. The reader stands among them and reads, "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come Lord Jesus.” And let the one who hears say, “Come Lord Jesus.” And let the one who is thirsty come, and the one who desires to take the water of life without price also say, "Come Lord Jesus." Can't you hear them as those gathered in the room prayed the Advent prayer out loud, "Maranatha, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus"? And even as they prayed they were identifying and marking themselves to the world and to their enemies as the living body of Jesus, those who were called by His name and led by His Spirit; known only to Him as His Bride, the Church. The likelihood of suffering and even death didn't just seem real - it was real. Surely He would keep His promise to them? And He did. Not in the way they had believed they see and know - but He came for them each one as His sons' and daughters. He came for them one by one as His most faithful followers, and now He will come again for them in the fullness of His Glory as His Church!


When I close my eyes to meditate on this Advent promise, after a short while it is as if He has already come to me. For in His Word, He promised to always keep me - and that He has indeed done. But I only know Him now in part, but when He comes again, I will know Him as He is - as the King in His glory. In this single moment I am aware that (within the continuum of time) I continue moving toward Him and He towards me. Yet the moment is captured, framed, and revealed in such a way that time stands still, so that I can clearly understand and see. What I know and what I see is that Christ Jesus has kept His promise to millions of followers from all times and all places to return for them - yet He will come them and us even again. I can also see that the Christ will surely keep His promise to me. So this Christmas, until He returns, I wait and I pray for Him to come, as those before me patiently waited and prayed... Come, Lord Jesus, even so Lord Jesus come. Until then He has promised to keep me - You and I are His Promises Kept.


Lighting the Christ Candle: (Read Together)

We light the Christ candle as a symbol of the illumination that came with the birth of the Christ-Child. His light has shone into the hearts and minds of all mankind for the salvation of all mankind. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Emmanuel… God with us! Christ the light of the world is Coming for us Again!


The Gathering of Friends, Family, and Faith…


During this Christmas Candlelight worship gathering we as family, friends, and community of Christ celebrate not only His birth but His presence, and obey live our lives to obey His teaching. Jesus directed His followers to continue the remembrance of His death and sacrifice through this historic supper; the bread - the wine - the Word with us. As followers of Christ we believe that He is alive and His Spirit abides in us. Each week we gather to worship in communion and giving. Our written prayers and liturgical responses are strictly based in scripture, so that we can teach our families the importance of not just following another Christian ritual, but more importantly to teach and continue the tradition of the message and the mission of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is more important now than ever. If you are a believer in Christ, and love God, then you are welcome to join us around the tables to worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit - the Trinity in unity.


The Words and Commands of Jesus…


Matthew 22:37-40

Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This the first and the great commandment. The second is similar to the first. Love your neighbor as yourself. The law of all of the prophets hang on these two commandments.

1 John 1:8-9

If we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Hebrews 4:14,16

Seeing that we have a great and high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Contrition and Confession…


Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. For this we are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us. Forgive us so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your name. Amen


Proclamation and Creed…


Celebrant - The Almighty and Merciful Lord grants us absolution, forgiveness, and remission for all of our sins. We walk in true repentance, in amendment of life, and in the eternal grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit. Knowing that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us


Together - I believe in God the Father creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended in to hell. On the third day He rose again.

He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen


Celebrant -

The Lord be with you.


People -

And also with you.


Celebrant -

Lift up your hearts.


People -

We lift them up to the Lord.


Celebrant -

Let us give thanks to the Lord.


People -

It is good and right to do so.


Celebrant -

It is very good and right, that we should at all times and at all places give thanks to our everlasting God. We are not alone in praising Him. We join with the host of all heaven to lift up His glorious name forever saying…


People…

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory; glory and honor to You Lord God most high! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord – Hosanna in the highest!


Remembrance and Thanksgiving…


It was at both the crib and the cross that Jesus made the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for all people, and for all time. He put into place through His gospel the command to continue an unending memory of His precious death and sacrifice until He returns for us.


For in the night that Jesus was betrayed, He took bread and gave thanks to You our God. Then He broke the bread and gave to His disciples and said… Take this and eat it for it is my body which is broken and then given to you. Do this in remembrance of Me.


In the same way, after supper He took the cup and gave thanks. Then He passed the cup to them and said… Drink this all of you; for it is my blood which is shed for the remission of your sin and the forgiveness of many. As often as you do this you remember Me.


Pastoral Prayer…


So here we bow Father. You alone are our God, and we are Your people. We receive these symbols of bread and wine as gifts, and these gifts as an offering to the remembrance of Your Son, Jesus Christ! As He commanded us – we remember His birth, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His promise to return for us in all of His great glory and power! We pray that You hear us - and that with Your Spirit You bless and set apart these symbols so that they be truth to our soul, strength to our spirits, and that the presence of Jesus Christ be forever in and with us. Father, the desire of our heart is that you accept our offerings of time, talent, and treasure as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving! We surrender the pride that exists our lives, and we purpose to love you with all of our being, and to love and be loved by those You have called us to love and serve. We also pray that for all who receive this communion, receive it worthily, humbly, and in awe and honor of Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord! By whom - with whom – and in whom; in the unity of the Holy Spirit - Amen


Brothers and Sisters, Friends and Family, and to the community of Reunion…


Come and Receive;

The Body of Christ – the Bread of Heaven

The Blood of Christ – the Cup of Salvation

Gather in peace to worship our Lord.













About Reunion Community Church

We are a Bible teaching Christian church in Peoria, AZ. We love God and teach His Truth. We invite you, your family and friends to join us on the faith journey, growing closer to one another, the Christian community of believers at Reunion, and most importantly with God. Read more about the timeless Truth we build our lives and faith in Christ on HERE.

We are conveniently located just off the 101 on 83rd Ave and Cactus Rd. Join us on Sunday mornings, Weds. evenings, and throughout the week at our small groups, meeting in homes around the Valley, including Surprise, Glendale, Peoria, Phoenix, Goodyear, Litchfield, and more. Connect with us on Facebook and watch our live streaming service on YouTube.

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