Strength is Here

a choir singing while holding their music sheets

Christmas Eve – 24th December 2021

The Nine Lessons inspired by Psalm 96

Lesson One

Strength is needed

The Christmas story actually begins with humanity’s origins. Our final lesson will confirm this to be the case. Our theme this year is, “Christ is here!” To unpack that phrase, we learn through these carols that means there is a divine strength available for us today. We need that strength because of the weakness we inherited.

Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be revered above all gods. Psalm 96:3-4

Lesson Two

Strength is promised

Our lesson takes us from the covenant with Eve to the convent with Abraham. The promised seed of the woman would given through the family of Abraham. The beauty of that is not only was Abraham the father of the Jews, he was also the father of Arabs. Divine strength was promised to all the families of the earth.

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Psalm 96:7

Lesson Three

Strength coming from heaven

Our lessons now move to the prophets, where we learn that our promised strength comes from heaven itself. The divine strength that will accompany Christ will shine forth like light through

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts.

Worship the Lord in holy splendour;
    tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:8-9

Lesson Four

Strength in weakness

The prophets reveal the paradox of Christmas – that the promised strength will be manifested in weakness. The mighty king enters humanity as a baby. Humanity’s Saviour begins life in the feeding trough of animals. Strength in weakness!

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens. Psalm 96:5

Lesson Five

Strength is concealed

Our lessons bring us closer to the appearance of divine strength. Heaven itself appears to convey its strength through a human vessel. Mary consciously and readily receives the blessing.

Honour and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Psalm 96:6

Lesson Six

Strength is revealed

Our sixth lesson teaches that heaven’s strength is revealed through Mary at a time of oppression, occupation, and overbearing leadership.

Worship the Lord in holy splendour;
    tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:9

Lesson Seven

Strength is proclaimed

Even though Christ’s birth is lowly, humble, and unknown to most peoples, his strength is proclaimed by heavenly hosts.

Psalm 96:11-13a

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;    let the field exult, and everything in it.
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
    before the Lord; for he is coming,

Lesson Eight

Strength is recognised

The Christmas story is not complete until the Magi from the East appear. Although they appeared before the Christ child months after his birth, it is the completion of nativity’s scene. Wise men, rulers, men of science and philosophy, came from afar to bear witness to Christ’s presence among men. Strength is recognised often by those outside of our society. It is those on the fringes who know divinity’s strength.

Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!
    The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.
    He will judge the peoples with equity.” Psalm 96:10

Lesson Nine

Strength is here!

Strength is here! The circle is complete. The Word was there when Adam’s weakness was manifested. The Word was promised to Abraham and proclaimed by the prophets. Angels and Magi testify to the Word’s presence among us. That Word became flesh. Heaven’s King became humanity’s servant. Today that Word is our Saviour. And soon, that Word will return.

    for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with his truth. Psalm 96:13b


You can watch the sermon as part of worship service on our YouTube Channel here.

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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