Music Prelude: Noel – Chris Tomlin ft. Lauren Daigle Nativity Story video – https://youtu.be/t-dGh5E_AQw
Dear BLCF Friends,
Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:
- attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
- attendees give their contact information upon arrival
- attendees observe two meters of social distance while seated
- attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
- attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.
– Pastor Steve
Responsive Reading #631: (The Incarnate Christ – John 1)
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word’
© January 2, 2023, by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on December 27, 2015
Call to Worship: Announcements and Prayer
Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU
Music Special: Ryan Stevenson – Heart and Soul of Christmas (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/nEzrCN_yEvA
Music Special: Light of the World – Lauren Daigle (with Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/WR5iwssnTn4
Amy Grant – Thy Word (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/sKlQpjl_oqY
Message by Steve Mickelson: Overcoming Darkness of the World with Light from the Word’
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service, on this, the first Sunday of 2023.God’s Blessings for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year. Today is a special Sunday, as it is Communion Sunday, where we will be lighting a candle to honour the birth of Jesus, and of course welcome in the New Year, 2023. Our lesson today will focus on light, the spiritual light that the Lord brought to humanity, a little over 2000 years ago, notable on that Day of Pentecost, when through the sacrifice of Jesus to pay the debt for the sins of humanity, believers were able to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, illuminating each believer with a flame like glow that came to them not unlike a might gust of wind. That Spirit, a gift of God’s presence continues to be given unto each believer since that day until the present time.
For the last month, we observed each of the Sunday Advent Services by lighting four Advent Candles, one on each Sunday, which respectively represent the hope, peace, joy, and love that our Savior’s nativity brings us.
Due to the severe winter storm that caused the closure of BLCF Church last Sunday, we have chosen today to light the fifth candle, known as the Christ Candle, lit to observe the nativity or birth of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
The 5th Candle: Christ Candle (John 8:12)
At this time of the service, we will light the Christ Candle. Having lit an Advent Candle on each of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day, a fifth candle is traditionally lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We light the Fifth Candle, the Christ Candle, in order to reflect upon the following significant aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ:
Jesus is our light, the Son of God and a son of man; the King of kings.
Jesus is our hope; he died a man and rose from the grave; the highest Priest of priests.
Jesus is our peace; he brought us our salvation from the judgment of sin; no more worry, pain or fear.
Jesus is our joy; promising us eternal life. He demonstrates God’s love– pure, holy, undying love.
Whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life! (John 3:16).
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD! (Psalm 4:6b)
Celebrating the birth of Jesus and rejoicing in His coming to us, we light the Christ candle. Let us read the verse: John 1:5 (ESV):
Walking in the Light
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Light represents an important symbol in the Scriptures, often represented by flame or a candle, as we light the Christ Candle, let us read John 8:12 (ESV):
I Am the Light of the World
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Mary Fairchild, writing in Christianity.about.dot com, gives us a further explanation of what the light, represented today by a lit candle, signifies:
Christianity Symbols Illustrated Glossary: Light in the Bible
The eternal flame of God’s presence was to be lit in the Temple in Jerusalem at all times. In fact, in the Jewish Feast of Dedication or “Festival of Lights” we remember the victory of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple after being desecrated under Greco-Syrian captivity. Even though they only had enough sacred oil for one day, God miraculously causes the eternal flame of his presence to burn for eight days, until more purified oil could be processed.
Light also represents the direction and guidance of God. Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a lamp to the feet and a light to our path. 2 Samuel 22 says the Lord is a lamp, turning darkness into light.
Continuing with our lesson…
Many Christians mistakenly believe that the New Covenant, between God and humanity, began with the birth of the Lord in Bethlehem and ended with Christ’s death on the cross at Calvary.
This somewhat simplified view of our Lord is both inaccurate and incomplete. To begin with, the New Covenant was spoken by our Lord at the Passover Supper, which Christians commonly refer to as the Lord’s Supper or the Last Supper, in which he broke bread and served wine to begin the institution or practice of the Communion between God and humanity. As part of this New Covenant, believers are instructed to regularly observe Communion until the day the Lord returns.
While it is true that our Savior’s death on the cross was the final blood sacrifice to atone for humanity’s sins, the oversimplified view that the Lord was born to die really misses other aspects of the Savior’s impact upon our lives.
A more complete assessment of the Gospel of Christ could be given, as follows:
Jesus is often referred to as, ‘The Word made flesh‘ and the ‘Light of the world‘, as we see in Psalm 119:105 (ESV):
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
This light came from God to shine in a world enveloped in the darkness of sin as described in Isaiah 9:2(ESV):
2 [a] The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
Footnotes: a. Isaiah 9:2 Chapter 9:1 in Hebrew
While we have the arrival of the Christ child alluded to by Isaiah, the physical light God provided at the creation, described in Genesis 1:1-3 (ESV) was there at the time of creation:
The Creation of the World
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
The light we celebrate as Christians is not the physical illumination that comes from the sun, but the Spiritual light from the Word. When we say Word, we are not talking about the Bible, but Jesus, the Word made flesh. It was at his nativity or birth, that Jesus not only arrived as the Word made flesh, we see that the Nativity of Christ brought God to humanity, John 1:1-18 (ESV):
The Word Became Flesh
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own,[b] and his own people[c] did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.[d] 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God,[e] who is at the Father’s side,[f] he has made him known.
Footnotes: a. John 1:4 Or was not any thing made. That which has been made was life in him b. John 1:11 Greek to his own things; that is, to his own domain, or to his own people c, John 1:11 People is implied in Greek e. John 1:16 Or grace in place of grace f. John 1:18 Or the only One, who is God; some manuscripts the only Son g. John 1:18 Greek in the bosom of the Father
While by Jesus’ birth, we see God coming to humanity, we see in the Crucifixion of Christ, we see the Way he brings humanity to God by removing the judgment for sin, John 12:44-50 (ESV):
Jesus Came to Save the World
44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
The Resurrection of Christ demonstrates the Lord’s glory as Jesus brings the promise of eternal life to humanity, 2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV):
Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 1:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved
On the Day of Pentecost, Christ sends humanity the Comforter, which is God’s Holy Spirit, so that, as apostles or messengers of Christ’s Gospel, we are empowered by the Spirit to shine the light of Christ throughout the word to the Glory of God, Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV):
Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that[a] they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:16 Or house. 16Let your light so shine before others that
In conclusion, Jesus, the Word, existed as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity at the time of Creation.
Sin brought a loss of Spiritual light upon humanity, causing us to fall into a state of darkness, devoid of the Spirit.
Jesus, the Word, came as the Son of God, the Word made flesh, in order to restore the Spiritual light upon humanity, by being a final sacrifice to atone for our sins.
We may celebrate Christ by observing the following:
The Nativity of Christ brought God to humanity.
The Crucifixion of Christ brings humanity to God.
The Resurrection of Christ brings the promise of eternal life to humanity.
On the Day of Pentecost, Christ sends humanity the Comforter, which is God’s Holy Spirit.
And that the light of Jesus, the Word made flesh, shines to overcome the darkness of the world. A light that shines from all who believe in the Lord, by way of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray…
Communion Special – Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA
Matt Maher – Glory (Let There Be Peace) ([Official Lyric Video]) – https://youtu.be/QW4c6DcxgGc
Closing Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video – https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y
Benediction – (Numbers 6:24-26):
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.