We just wanted to let everyone know that our 2013 Taipei Missional Community Christmas Eve Service went really well. Besides our 6 MC team members, about 15 friends from the community showed up, including several people walking in off the street. Our team prepared a delicious Christmas Eve dinner of Beijing Roast Duck, mashed potatoes, salad, shrimp sauce green peppers, fried cabbage, rolls, and fruit salad. After dinner, we spent 30 minutes singing Christmas carols in Chinese and English. Erich shared a short Christmas message in Chinese, with Kelley translating into English for our foreigner friends. This was the first time many of our friends have heard the Christmas story. After a short time of prayer, we had a candle-lighting ceremony, and sang Silent Night. Finally, we handed out gift boxes filled with Christmas cookies, and information about our Taipei Missional Community.
We received great feedback in person and on Facebook after the service. For many of our friends, this was the first Christmas service they had ever experienced. Hearts were touched, and we’d appreciate your continued prayers for our friends to integrate into our regular house church meetings.
Click below to read Erich’s Christmas message in English or Chinese.[learn_more caption=”Click for English”]I’m so pleased that we can all celebrate Christmas Eve together tonight. Christmas Eve is the night before Christmas day. But what’s so special about this day? Well, Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth 2000 years ago. But don’t worry – tonight it doesn’t matter if you know a lot about Jesus, or nothing at all. Because tonight I’ll be sharing about the meaning of Jesus’ birth.
Hundreds of years before he was born, Jesus’ birth was actually foretold by prophets. Let’s listen to the words of a famous prophet in the Bible, called Isaiah.
2 Those people lived in darkness, but they will see a great light. They lived in a place as dark as death, but a great light will shine on them.
3 God, you will make the nation grow, and you will make the people happy. They will rejoice in your presence as they do at harvest time. It will be like the joy when people take their share of things they have won in war. 4 That will happen because you will lift the heavy yoke off their shoulders and take away their heavy burden. You will take away the rod that the enemy used to punish your people.
5 Every boot that marched in battle and every uniform stained with blood will be destroyed and thrown into the fire. 6 This will happen when the special child is born. God will give us a son who will be responsible for leading the people. His name will be “Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” 7 His power will continue to grow, and there will be peace without end. This will establish him as the king sitting on David’s throne and ruling his kingdom. He will rule with goodness and justice forever and ever. The strong love that the Lord All-Powerful has for his people will make this happen!
Isaiah is foretelling the coming of a very special child. Did you catch what this child will be like? He will bring light and joy to people living in darkness. He will lift people’s burdens. He will bring an end to bloodshed and war. He will rule, but in a different way than the violent rule of earthly kings. His peaceful kingdom will keep expanding until it fills the whole earth. And people will call him Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
So 800 years after Isaiah’s time, the Jewish people were still expectantly waiting for this king to come and deliver them. But what were the exact circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth? Let’s hear a report from one of his disciples.
1 It was about that same time that Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people in the countries that were under Roman rule. The order said that everyone’s name must be put on a list. 2 This was the first counting of all the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 Everyone traveled to their own hometowns to have their name put on the list. 4 So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David. 5 Joseph registered with Mary because she was engaged to marry him. (She was now pregnant.) 6 While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have the baby. 7 She gave birth to her first son. She wrapped him up well and laid him in a box where cattle are fed. She put him there because the guest room was full.
8 That night, some shepherds were out in the fields near Bethlehem watching their sheep. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord was shining around them. The shepherds were very afraid. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid. I have some very good news for you—news that will make everyone happy. 11 Today your Savior was born in David’s town. He is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This is how you will know him: You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth and lying in a feeding box.”
13 Then a huge army of angels from heaven joined the first angel, and they were all praising God, saying,
14 “Praise God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people who please him.”
15 The angels left the shepherds and went back to heaven. The shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this great event the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they went running and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the feeding box. 17 When they saw the baby, they told what the angels said about this child. 18 Everyone was surprised when they heard what the shepherds told them. 19 Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. 20 The shepherds went back to their sheep, praising God and thanking him for everything they had seen and heard. It was just as the angel had told them.
Did you catch it? The shepherds are watching their sheep at night-time, when suddenly the night sky is lit up with bright angels. Their message: a child has born who will bring joy and peace to all people. What do you think is the first thing that flashed through the minds of those startled Jewish shepherds? Isaiah’s deliverer is finally here!
When Jesus had grown up, he became a traveling teacher, performing many healings and miracles. His main message was: God’s rule has arrived, so repent of your selfish ways and join Jesus’ new community of love and peace.
2000 years later, he still has the same calling to each of us. Repent of the darkness inside our hearts, and join God’s community on earth.
As the Truth Community Church Network, this is what we’re about. We’re a group of Christians who seek to live in close fellowship with another as we follow Jesus together. If you want to know more about when and where we meet, just talk to any one of us.
Now I’d like to end in prayer, and hope that this prayer can help us experience the true meaning of Christmas. Let’s bow our heads and pray to close. Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to this earth to show us how to live in true fellowship with God and others. And thank you for taking our burdens away and bringing peace and joy into our hearts.
While we keep our heads bowed, I’d like to leave a short time for us all to talk to Jesus. Perhaps you’ve carried a heavy burden for too long. Give your burden to Jesus. Perhaps you’re full of worry. Give your worries to Jesus. Perhaps you have been hurt by someone, and can’t forgive that person. Give your hurt to Jesus. He will take care of all these things, because he loves each one of us. Let’s spend a minute in quiet prayer with God before I close. [/learn_more]
[learn_more caption=”Click for Chinese”]感謝大家來參與我們平安夜的party，首先我先自我介紹，還有我們社區教會組員介紹
那時，有諭旨從凱撒奧古士督頒發下來，叫普天下r的人登記戶口。 2 這是第一次戶口登記，是在居里紐作敘利亞總督的時候舉行的。 3 眾人各歸各城去登記戶口。 4 約瑟本是大衛家族的人，也從加利利的拿撒勒上猶太去，到了大衛的城伯利恆， 5 與所聘之妻馬利亞一同登記戶口。那時馬利亞的身孕已經重了。 6 他們在那裡的時候，馬利亞的產期到了， 7 生了頭胎兒子，用布包著，放在馬槽裡，因為客店裡沒有地方。
8 在伯利恆的郊外，有一些牧人在夜間看守羊群。 9 主的一位使者站在他們旁邊，主的榮光四面照著他們，他們就非常害怕。 10 天使說：“不要怕！看哪！我報給你們大喜的信息，是關於萬民的： 11 今天在大衛的城裡，為你們生了救主，就是主基督。 12 你們要找到一個嬰孩，包著布，臥在馬槽裡，那就是記號了。” 13 忽然有一大隊天兵，同那天使一起讚美 神說：
14 “在至高之處，榮耀歸與 神！
15 眾天使離開他們升天去了，那些牧人彼此說：“我們往伯利恆去，看看主所指示我們已經成就的事。” 16 他們急忙去了，找到馬利亞、約瑟和那臥在馬槽裡的嬰孩。 17 他們見過以後，就把天使對他們論這孩子的話傳開了。 18 聽見的人，都希奇牧人所說的事。 19 馬利亞把這一切放在心裡，反覆思想。 20 牧人因為聽見的和看見的，正像天使對他們所說的一樣，就回去了，把榮耀讚美歸與 神。
And here are some pictures from the event ~ enjoy!