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Nativity Of Our Lord
Series B

Option #1: "The Message and the Mission of Christmas"
Luke 2:1-20
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

(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.

1) The message of Christmas comes to a world shrouded by sin. The Lord used this bondage to fulfill the ancient prophecy that his Son, our Savior, would be born in Bethlehem. "Born under law to redeem those under law"--Galatians 4. "Redemption" was a well-known theme in the Roman world--former slaves were called "freedmen."

(Luke 2:5) 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.

This message of Christmas is that God has a different agenda than that of the world. The Christian’s mission is that we are also in the world, but not of it (Romans 12). The message of Christmas is also that our Savior humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2). This humility began on the night of his birth and continued until his final prayer on the cross (Lk 23:46).

Luke 2:8) 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."

Tradition suggests that these were no ordinary sheep. Dr. Paul Meier (FIRST CHRISTMAS) writes that it is likely these shepherds were tending sheep destined to be temple sacrifices. How fitting that Christ, our Passover (lamb) to be sacrificed for mankind’s sins, should have his coming proclaimed to shepherds tending these sheep. This Savior is Christ, the LORD, God in human flesh, humble yet destined to sit on David’s throne (Lk 1:32b).

(Luke 2:13) 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."

This message of Christmas reminds us that PRAISE is our duty. Angel praise was the message of Christmas and praise is mission in this life until we join the praise of angels in our Father’s House (Rev 7:11-12).

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. 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.

Again the message and the mission of Christ converge. The Shepherds heard angel song and go to see Him of whom they have heard. The mission of Christmas is to share the good news with anyone who will listen. This is remarkable because shepherds could not testify in a court of law. Yet our Lord chooses them to be his first missionaries.

(Luke 2:19) But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

 

And so should we ponder this Christmas message and mission our whole life through.

Adam Clarke wrote: pondered them in her heart... Weighing them in her heart. Weighing is an English translation of our word pondering, from the Latin ponderare. Every circumstance relative to her son’s birth, Mary treasured up in her memory; and every new circumstance she weighed, or compared with those which had already taken place, in order to acquire the fullest information concerning the nature and mission of her son.

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THE MESSAGE FOR CHILDREN

Visual: a bag with gift wrap obviously torn off of a gift

 

When do you open the Christmas gifts at your house? Christmas Eve? Christmas Day? The first Christmas gift wasn’t the gifts the Wise Men gave. No, that came later. The very first Christmas gift was God’s own Son. This gift was not laid under a Christmas tree but in a manger. But this first Christmas gift did have something in common with the gifts we open. It was WRAPPED in swaddling clothes, strips of cloth, and laid in a manger.

There is one big difference between this Gift and our gifts. We get our gifts once and that’s it until another Christmas comes. I’m guessing that you don’t even remember all of the gifts you received last Christmas. This Gift is one we are open and enjoy every day of every month of every year. The Gift is Jesus our Savior. He gave us the GIFT of the forgiveness of sins, a gift that keeps on giving every day of our lives. He told us on the cross that he paid for that gift IN FULL when he said IT IS FINISHED.

We can tell our friends about our Christmas gifts, but this is one GIFT that we can give away and still keep it in our own hearts for a lifetime. Do what the shepherds did. They spread the word of what was told them about this Child.

Keep Jesus in your heart forever and give Him away when you can!

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Option #2: "The Spirit of Christmas Last(s)!"
Titus 3:4-7
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

 

Point: The Holy Spirit gives us a Christmas "bath"!
 

 

Problem: We sometimes think we're clean--i.e., kind and loving, doing right things--and thus worthy of salvation.

 

Promise: Through Baptism et al, God saves us from our self-righteousness, and rebirths and renews us for/with eternal life and empowers us to share the gift with others.
 

 

Notes:

 

1. There once was a psychiatrist at a mental ward who wanted to try out a new way of helping his patients. His idea was to live for a while among those mental patients in the hospital where he served, to be with them day and night for an extended period of time. And so he moved in behind the locked door, set up his bed in the ward, and lived the routine of the mental patients day after day. Their schedule became his schedule. Their environment became his environment. He experienced the food and the noise and the smells and everything else that they experienced all the time. He was there to help them with their medicine. He would always be around in the midst of their confusion to give a reassuring smile, to place an arm on the shoulder of even the most unattractive and repulsive person in the ward. And in many cases he literally loved those mental patients back into reality and helped them to find meaning for their life. Down on their level, he was able to raise them up to wholeness and give them a new start.

 

Isn’t that exactly what our “Immanuel” God did for us? He “moved in with us,” so to speak, at Christmas and lived with us day in and day out. Our corrupted existence became his corrupted existence. Our fallen environment became his environment. He experienced many of the ups and downs of life that we go through, including the pain and the troubles. He knows what it’s like, because he’s been there. He finally went so far as to die, just like we do, and in so doing to love us back into a right relationship with our heavenly Father, giving meaning to our existence again. Down on our level, he raised us up to wholeness and gave us new life. (Aaron Koch)

 

2. I like humankind. It's people I can't stand! (Charlie Brown?)

 

3.Faith alone saves; but the faith that saves is not alone... Don't put the cart of works before the horse of grace! (David Guzik)

 

4. The theology of Christianity is based on grace; the ethics of Christianity are based on gratitude. (Briscoe)

 

5. "Goodness" can be a rather passive term, especially if we think of it as not doing anything wrong, but the biblical understanding of goodness is far from that. It is active generosity and compassion, a will to love... God's goodness consists precisely in the will to love, to set free, to set into a right and fulfilling relationship what has been alienated and unfulfilled. (William Loader)

6. Jesus is the water bringer, the rain man, who danced for us, and we all got wet as we dared with muddy feet to share the rhythm of the dance. (William Loader)

 

 

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This page was revised on: Monday, November 13, 2006 11:39:30 AM