Congregation Listens to the Christmas Story
The church service in the Laurelbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church on December 23, 2017 began with Clifton Brandt welcoming everyone and making a few announcements. Vespers will be at 5:00 in cafeteria with supper thereafter.
Felix (9th grader) played an introit. The congregation had a silent invocation. The congregation then sang “Go Tell It on the Mountain”. Clifton Brandt then had the Morning Prayer; the congregation sang “Hear Our Prayer”.
Clifton Brandt then called for the offering. Blake (senior) and John Ellis then collected the morning offerings; the loose offering went to the local conference advance. The congregation sang the doxology, and Clifton Brandt prayed for the offering.
Eva Gonzalez then sang the children a song and then told the children a story written by an 8th grader. Ricardo Reid, Mark Kent, and Angela Volpe then put on a special program titled “The Journey”. The congregation sang “O Come All Ye Faithful”. Ricardo Reid had the closing prayer.
Personnel Other Than Students:
Angela Volpe – Mark Kent’s fiancé
Clifton Brandt – works with Laurelbrook’s sewer, water, and boiler systems
John Ellis – former Laurelbrook staff member / retired vehicle mechanic
Mark Kent – Laurelbrook’s IT person
Ricardo Reid – local head elder / assistant boys’ dean
Following are some notes on the section of the program titled “The Journey”:
“The Journey” was a review of the Christmas story.
Nazareth was a backwater humble town of 500 people. Mary wanted, like all girls, to be the mother of the Messiah. Joseph asked her to be his wife. Then she had an interview with a stranger (an angel) who told her that she would be the birth mother of the Messiah despite the fact that she wasn’t yet married to Joseph. She was also told that her cousin Elizabeth would be having a child who was to be the forerunner of the Messiah. Angela Volpe then sang “Breath of Heaven”, accompanied on the piano by Mark Kent.
Joseph thought he could trust Mary – and then he found she was pregnant and potentially unfaithful to him. God spoke to Joseph in a dream and told him that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. He was proud of his workmanship in his shop. The congregation sang “O Come, O Come, Immanuel”.
Joseph often asked God about a solution to a problem in his carpenter’s shop so he could believe what God had old him. It bothered him that the tax situation had come right at the end of Mary’s pregnancy. A midwife wasn’t able to accompany them to Bethlehem. Mary reminded him that the baby was God’s Son, and God would work things out. This way the prophecy regarding the Messiah being born in Bethlehem would come true. The congregation then sang “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
The couple searched Bethlehem for space to sleep but put their complete trust in God again. Ricardo Reid then sang “O Holy Night”, accompanied on the piano by Felix.
Finally Joseph found a rough cave, clean straw, and a manger to put the Messiah in. He wondered how he could be the first to lay his eyes on this promised Messiah. Mark Kent then sang “Joseph’s Song”, accompanying himself on the piano.
Ricardo Reid then sang “What Can I Give Him”. Ricardo Reid then had some closing thoughts.
Matthew 1:18 – 2:12 “18 ¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. 2:1 ¶ Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard [these things], 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 demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, [in] the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found [him], bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 ¶ When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw 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 exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”
During this time, God’s focus was on humble, earnest, and willing people who could be influenced by the Holy Spirit. Joseph took Mary as his wife despite the unusual situation. God also worked on heathen people (the Wise Men) because they were searching for Jesus and traveled to Bethlehem to worship Jesus. But Herod was troubled like many people this Christmas season.
When he was told that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, he told the Wise Men to tell him where Jesus was so he could “worship” Him. His motive was to get rid of Jesus. The Wise Men, however, brought gifts to Jesus, not themselves.
Heaven does not focus on the things of the world but the glory of God. Give Jesus your heart.