Sermon for Dec 25

By on December 25, 2016

The Christmas Story

Preached to Clark’s Chapel UMC on 25 December 2016

Luke 2:1-20

NIV Luke 2:1 ¶ In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 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. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 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.

8 ¶ And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 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. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

15 ¶ 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.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

Introduce / Establish Need

 

  • Show video – Christmas According to Kids

 

I hope you enjoyed this humorous telling of the Christmas story.  There is something special when the kids tell it.  Did you catch the last line?  The new baby is going to change the world.  Jesus is changing the world.  Let’s hear that message anew as we hear the familiar story from Luke’s gospel.

 

Into the Biblical World

 

Luke’s Christmas story can be easily divided into 3 sections beginning with verses 1-7.  This section explains how Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem.  They were compelled to be there by the decree of the Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, an irony that is not lost on the gospel writer Luke, who sees the plan of God unfold through Jesus.

 

If you’re like me, your traditional understanding has Mary and Joseph arriving into Bethlehem, not finding room in some commercial inn, and having the baby shortly thereafter.  But as I now read the text, it is entirely possible they arrived in advance of the birth and that they were staying with family.  The word translated “inn” could also be translated as guest house, which makes sense if there is some time implied by the phrase “While they were there.”  If so, the gift of the manger was to provide some privacy to the birth scene in a crowded house.  Regardless, Luke is setting the stage for the arrival of the shepherds.

 

The next phase of the story is the angelic announcement to the shepherds of the arrival of the Christ child.  Again, I see irony in the story as God chooses to make this announcement to a group of shepherds.  The shepherd and sheep motif is rich in the Old Testament and harkens back to King David and the Passover lamb.  Jesus teaches in John’s gospel that he is the good shepherd.  While we ponder that mystery, we cling to the promises of the angelic announcement.

 

And so we join with the shepherds in Luke’s final scene as they journey to see the Christ child.  They hurried.  They told those there what they had been told.  In my understanding, this is Joseph’s extended family.  Mary pondered this moment and the shepherds went back to their duties, praising God along the way.

 

 

Into Our Experience

 

The crux of the story is that the arrival of Jesus changed the world.  In the Christmas story, we catch glimpses of this change in people.  The shepherds were changed, Joseph’s family, and especially Mary.  Of course, the real change came 33 years later as Jesus’ ministry concludes with his resurrection and promise to return again.

 

The Christmas story asks us to be like the shepherds who hear good news and respond to it.  The Christmas story asks us to be like Mary and ponder its wonder and meaning in our hearts.  Next week, the Christmas story continues with the arrival of the Magi and that we give to honor our Lord.

 

The real question of Christmas is has Jesus changed us?  Our advent series has focused on the gifts that Christmas brings to us, but in doing so, has challenged us to understand that we are changed people because we have received Jesus into our lives.  Emmanuel, God with us, continues to empower us so that by faith and devotion to God, we can proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God.  Merry Christmas!

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