Summary: The message deals with Mary and Joseph and their extreme faith in God.
The Message of Christmas: Faith
An old story that used to go around Broadway tells of a playwright cooped us in a telephone booth holding the giant sized New York telephone directory in his hands. He felt its great weight and looked curiously at it’s hundreds of pages of Jones’, Smith’s, and Johnson’s. Thinking in terms of his craft as a dramatist he exclaimed, "There’s not much of a plot here but oh boy, what a cast of characters we see."
This morning I want us to look at the cast of characters found in the Christmas story. We will see their interaction with circumstances, people, and God.
One main player in that first Christmas morning was Joseph. Joseph is said to be a carpenter by trade, earning his living in the city of Nazareth. But the most important fact about him is that he was a Jewish man with deep religious convictions whose ancestry can be traced all the way back to David.
His religious faith created a crisis for Joseph, for Mary and Joseph had not consummated their marriage when Mary discovered she was carrying a child. But then the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said that the child she was carrying was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
What would Joseph do? How would he respond? A child conceived by the Holy Spirit. It had not happened before. A little baby born like other babies would become a Savior? Who would believe such a story? Joseph did and his trust and obedience to God is what has made his name one associate with righteousness.
How we need to learn the lesson from Joseph’s decision making. How we need to learn to trust God. It’s not easy to do. God tells us to give and we will receive more, to lose our life for His sake and we will find life. God tells us to invest our life in the cause of Jesus, the same child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas, and our eternity will be secure. God tells us to give up those things which the world says are essential to life and if we do we will experience real life. Who would believe such a list of contradictions to this world’s truth? We do! Trust in God means we put our life in God’s hands as Joseph did and bet our life that what He says is true.
Another key player was Mary. What does Mary add to this Christmas drama? The quality about Mary which is most clearly reflected in the text is wonder. We see this wonder in her song of celebration. It says,
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.
Mary was amazed that the child who was to be born would be the Savior of the world. She was even more amazed that God would chose her as the human instrument by which His child, His Son, would be brought into this world.
I am afraid that most of us have lost our sense of wonder at the incredible proclamations and promises made to us this Christmas. We have lost our sense of wonder about a God who is big enough to create this vast universe in which we live and yet at the same time He came to this earth as a child to redeem you and me. We have lost our sense of wonder about a God that is so sovereign in His power that He holds the whole world in His hands and yet at the same time is so personal in His concern about you and me He knows the hairs on each of our heads.
One little girl on being told some of the great Old Testament stories about God exclaimed, "God was much more exciting then." The little girl was wrong. God is just as exciting now as then. How each of us needs to reclaim and proclaim the wonder and excitement of the Lord when Mary said, "My soul exalts in the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior."