Virtual "Church" is a personal ministry of Dr. John Wesley Slider, a pastor in the Arminian-Wesleyan-Methodist tradition. This ministry is NOT a chartered church under the auspicies of the Free Methodist Church, the United Methodist Church, or any denomination's judicatories, agencies, or churches.
The Season of Christmastide is the shortest of the liturgical calendar. It falls between Christmas and Epiphany Sunday. It is an extension of the celebration of Christmas. Here is a brief Christmastide music collection:
This is the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the Light of everyone.The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.For nothing is impossible with God."
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth.When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" And Mary said:
My soul glorifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For he has been mindful
Of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
For the Mighty One has done great things for me –
Holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
From generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
But has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
But has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
Remembering to be merciful
To Abraham and his descendants forever,
Even as he said to our fathers."
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" – which means, "God with us."
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace to all on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born."In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.
Then Herod called the wise men secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For