25 December 2018
Rev Hans Vaatstra
Text: Luke 1
Special Christmas Service
1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things [a]accomplished among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning [b]were eyewitnesses and [c]servants of the [d]word, 3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having [e]investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been [f]taught.
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named [g]Zacharias, of the division of [h]Abijah; and he had a wife [i]from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in [j]years.
8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear [k]gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will [l]give him the name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit [m]while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zacharias said to the angel, “How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in [n]years.” 19 The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who [o]stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.20 And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
21 The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept [p]making signs to them, and remained mute. 23 When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.
24 After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she [q]kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.”
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin [r]engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the [s]descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was [t]Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, [u]favored one! The Lord [v]is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How [w]can this be, since I [x]am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the [y]holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and [z]she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For [aa]nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the [ab]bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
39 Now [ac]at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And [ad]how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who [ae]believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her [af]by the Lord.”
46 And Mary said: