We are running several of our ToGather services from previous years. ToGather was originally based on our Verse of the Day but these are provided because the fit the them of ADVENT, Jesus' first coming as Immanuel, God with us. We pray you find these a blessing to you as you seek to draw near our Lord, Savior, and King!

Welcome, this is ToGather! (Find out more about ToGather.) We invite you to join us as we celebrate the Father sending his Son who was conceived by the Spirit in the womb of Mary and who came to our world to be one of us and to redeem all of us!

Opening with Praise in Word and Song:

Let's begin ToGather with "King of Kings," led for us by Hillsong Worship. As we sing, we proclaim that Jesus' birth, life, death, and resurrection are God's plan to redeem us and that our proper response should be praise and adoration:

Our opening prayer is a poem of faith from the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:16. We encourage you to pray it out loud as we remember the significance of Jesus coming to us to be one of us, as God with us:

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

[Jesus] appeared in the flesh,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
taken up in glory
[Thank you, God. Amen.]

The mystery and miracle of Jesus coming to earth rested on the faith of a young woman to say "Yes!" to God's amazing plan and on a righteously devout man. He had to believe Mary's story about her pregnancy and believe the words he received in a dream that this miracle was real and that he, and his bride-to-be, were part of history's greatest miracle and most precious gift. They both knew that saying "Yes!" to God's plan would make life hard for them. Despite all the challenges, Mary and Joseph accepted their part in salvation's plan, and their faith brought us God's gift of love, his beloved Son, Jesus (John 3:16-17).

To help us grasp the wonder of this incredible gift, along with its bewildering challenges, let's join Amy Grant as she sings "Breath of Heaven":

Focusing on the Scriptures:

Our message is based on the context of our Verse of the Day, Luke 2:13-14:

Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

To prepare us to hear the Bible's words about Jesus' birth, let's join Hillsong Worship as they sing "O Holy Night":

Our message is mainly reading the account of Jesus' birth in the gospels and then committing to seek to know Jesus better in 2022:

The link that Phil showed at the end of his lesson is https://www.verseoftheday.com/Jesus.html. That web page also has a link for the daily devotionals on the Gospel of John.

What God did in coming to earth as the Son, Immanuel, God with us, is amazing. Lauren Daigle sings "Noel"NOTE and invites us to come and see what the Lord has done in Jesus:

Sharing The Supper:

As we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Supper, let's sing "Christ Is Mine Forevermore" with CityAlight and confess that our hearts have found their treasure in Jesus:

Today's Communion reflection comes from one of our beloved editors who prefers to remain anonymous. His servant-heart reminds us that the gospel entering the life of an unbeliever nearly always begins with a servant — a servant who loves and risks and shares and respects the Lord with others:

Heartlight.org has a daily devotional called "What Jesus Did" that goes through one of the gospels each calendar year. With that schedule, the Scriptures around December 25 are related to Jesus' arrest, trial, and crucifixion, not his birth. For those of us who celebrate Christmas on December 25, that schedule may seem somewhat unfortunate — a bit of a downer on the whole emphasis on Jesus' birth. However, it really is not unfortunate at all.

We focus on Jesus' birth at Christmas, of course, but why is his birth important? It's important because he was born to be crucified. He had to have flesh and blood and experience life as a human to be the sacrifice for our sins and to be a mediator for us. Scripture clearly connects Jesus' incarnation and birth with his crucifixion and his sacrifice. In Matthew 1:21, an angel talking to Joseph made it clear at the very beginning why Jesus was being born. About Mary, the angel said:

"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."

The mystery and miracle of Jesus coming to earth rested on the faith of a young woman to say 'Yes!' to God!
Later, after Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, Paul wrote to the church in Rome and said:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did — [How did he do it?] — by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering (Romans 8:1-3).

As we are involved with the Christmas traditions with family, gifts, and food, let's never forget that Christmas is important because Jesus was born to be the sacrifice for our sins. The importance of Christmas is the coming of Jesus as "God with us" (Matthew 1:23) to reveal God to us and to sacrifice himself for us (Colossians 1:15-23). In Communion, we remember him in a special way as we take the bread and the cup (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

As we eat the bread, let's thank God for Jesus' incarnation:

Holy God, thank you for sending Jesus to be God with us in human flesh like us and thank you for this bread to help us remember him. In Jesus' name. Amen.

We also give thanks for the cup:

Jesus, thank you for coming as a human, not only to reveal God to us but also to have the blood that needed to be shed to wash us clean. Amen.

Closing with Joyous Praise:

Let's pray:

O God, thank you! Thank you for loving us. Thank you for the mystery, wonder, and miracle of coming to us in Jesus. Though we have not physically seen Jesus, we love him, and even though we do not physically see Jesus now, we believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy for we are receiving the end result of our faith, the salvation of our souls. Thank you, O God; thank you! Amen. (Adapted into a prayer from 1 Peter 1:8-9.)

We close with the song "Joy to the World" with Jeremy Riddle and Bethel Music:

Special thanks to The Lumo Project and Free Bible Images for images related to the ministry of Jesus.

The English word "noel" (noelle) is borrowed from the French word "noël." It means "birth." The origin of the French word is the Latin "natalis," which can mean "birthday" as a noun or "of or relating to birth" as an adjective. It was used in the Latin phrase, "natalis dies Domini" — meaning "the Lord's birthday." (The English adjective "natal," as in pre-natal and peri-natal, also means birth and is also an offspring of "natalis.")