Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
There seems to be something about the Christmas season that draws people into Christian worship services more than any other time of the year, including those who seem far from faith in God. In Matthew 2:1-12 we read of men who would have grew up a long way from faith in the God of Israel & his coming Messiah. Yet they are drawn into the story of Christ’s birth by a star! These men were astrologers who came from a faraway pagan culture, & yet it is them & not the Jewish king or scribes who respond appropriately to Christ’s birth.
Reading; Luke 1:1-38
In Luke chapter one an angel appears to an elderly priest called Zechariah & then to a young betrothed woman called Mary. Both are unexpectedly promised a miracle son! Zechariah's son would become the forerunner of the Christ & Mary's Son would be the Christ himself. This sermon contrasts the very different responses of Zechariah & Mary to God's plan. Zechariah doubted & Mary believed, & yet God in his grace still fulfilled his word to both.
With all the presents we unwrap on Christmas Day the mystery behind the wrapping paper is revealed in seconds, the paper comes off & the surprise is over. However when God's greatest gift is truly received the wonder never wears off, for there is always more to unwrap, more to comprehend, more to surprise the heart. God's greatest gift is the surprise that never loses its wonder. For this reason after all other gifts are unwrapped, & all the hype dies down & we’re back in the daily grind of life, we can still carry in our hearts the lasting wonder of Christmas!
Reading: John 3:16
It's clear from Mary's song she treasured the written word of God & it's equally clear from the wider Christmas story how deeply she treasured Jesus the Word who became flesh! When the shepherds came to visit Jesus they shared what the angels had told them about him. It says in Luke 2:19 “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She treasured everything that was said about Jesus & in the same way we ought to treasure everythig the Bible tells us about Jesus! This is how true Christian devostion grows. While Mary is an example of true devotion to God she is not the hero of the story. The hero is the One who lived within her, the One she treasured, the One she always pointed to!
Reading: Luke 1:46-55; 2:19
The story of Christmas is the a story about how God took on human flesh & moved into our world in the historical Person of Jesus. It is the story of the Incarnation, the story of Immanuel, God with us. However the story of God With Us is not only a story about a past event is also a story we have to look forward to & one which can also be our present story. Jesus did not come in the flesh only to leave us as orphans again, no he came to ensure that the story of Immanuel, God With Us became our always & forever story.
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