Summary: This was a sermon given on Christmas morning, 2005.
Lk. 2:1-20 “A Celebration or a Sigh”
It’s finally here. The wait is over. We lit the white candle, the Christ candle at the beginning of the service as a physical reminder that Christ was born into this world on Christmas morning.
And so as we begin this message this morning, I have only one question for us. Is the reality that Christmas is here, for us, the cause for a celebration or a sigh?
In other words, on this Christmas morning are we rejoicing that Christ has been born and that God is with us or do we breath a sigh of relief that all of this season is finally over.
I wonder that for the characters in our Bible text as well. What was their response to this first Christmas being over? Let’s look at each one and perhaps we’ll learn what our own response should be.
First, there’s Mary. Celebration or a Sigh? Certainly there’s reason for her to sigh. For nine months, this young girl or young woman has gone through physical and emotional changes. She’s been sick, nauseous, tired, maybe she cries a lot, gets angry a lot. She went through all of the normal experiences of pregnancy. Just because she is carrying God’s Son doesn’t mean that she has been spared the normal issues of pregnancy. Not only that but she has been the focus of people’s talk and gossip and criticism. Her friends may have thought she was nuts. Her fiancé considered leaving her. Her parents may not have even known what to do. She’s traveled many miles, pregnant, and while she’s far from home, she gives birth and probably doesn’t have the things for the baby she would have had. She’s experienced the pains of childbirth more naturally than most people probably today know or understand.
And for her the birth of this baby, which we celebrate as Christmas might have meant a huge sigh of relief.
But as we saw last week, she was quick to say yes to God when He asked her to do this. She had been willing to take all of these risks for God and even while she may not have understood what would happen to her and how it would affect her, she was trusting.
So the more I think about it, for Mary, this first Christmas, this first child, the son of God was probably a celebration.
She had been able to do what no one else had ever done or would ever do again. And it wasn’t as if her life would return to normal now, for just as she had a normal pregnancy, so too she would have to take care of this special child just as a normal child.
And I don’t think there was one moment of regret as she looked into those tiny eyes and counted those fingers and toes and while she may not have completely understood what was going to happen and how her decision and this child were going to impact the world, in her heart, there was celebration.
No, I don’t think Mary sighed a sigh of relief but celebrated the birth of this child.
But what about Joseph? Celebration or a Sigh?
Again, he had reason to sigh. Here his fiancé was pregnant. He had considered putting her away but word had come from an angel to not do so. Still he wanted their relationship to start as soon as possible and this sudden unexpected pregnancy had really gotten in the way. No honeymoon. No time in which it was going to be just the two of them. There would always be the baby to think about. His wife had been a ball of tears or upset. She was always sorry later but he just couldn’t get the hang of these mood swings. He knew this wasn’t his Mary and he tried to help but sometimes his intentions were misunderstood and sometimes he was, well, he was just a man. You know what I mean.
Now that the baby was born, life could get back to how it was supposed to be to begin with. And so, it’s possible that with this first Christmas, Joseph’s response is a sigh.
On the other hand though, Joseph hears the words, “Congratulations, it’s a boy”. He begins to think about all of the things he will teach this boy, how to throw a ball, how to run fast, and before he knows it, Joseph has hopes and dreams for this little one. Maybe one day the baby will be a carpenter just like his old man. And he can teach him everything he knows.
He’ll teach him to make tables and chairs and mangers, and boats and eventually crosses for the government. And now Joseph’s attitude as he sees this tiny little baby with all of the potential and possibility is to celebrate.