Summary: Sometimes we romanticize Christmas and when we do we miss some of its most crucial messages. The real story of Christmas is about real life and real struggles and real truth.
A Christmas Reality Check
The Christmas of today is very different than the first Christmas:
Today: The manger scene usually includes angels hovering, shepherds watching, animals gazing, clean straw, a strong looking Joseph, a vulnerable yet invincible baby, a halo over Mary’s head, a beautiful moon rising…everything is just perfect!
Back then: That first Christmas was anything but perfect – think through the story:
• Mary, a non-married pregnant young woman is engaged to Joseph who was totally crushed by the news because he knew he wasn’t the father
• They had to walk from Nazareth to Bethlehem- some 50 miles – to go pay some taxes- that’s a nice reason to take a walking vacation when your girlfriend is 9 months pregnant and perhaps a little cranky – remember, Mary wasn’t perfect…just special…like you and me
• Joseph failed to call ahead and make motel reservations…they were homeless for the night – they end up in a barn yard – a cave of some type where Mary painfully goes into labor without sedatives or a doctor and gives birth to a son – the very Son of God, Jesus Christ
• The first bed for our Savior was a manager, a feeding trough for animals…unsanitary, maybe a little smelly, not very private…yet that is where God choose to initiate a new relationship with mankind…a “get-down-to-where-we-live” kind of relationship
• Then crazy King Herod, who reminds me of Saddam Hussein, orders the killing of all boys who are age 2 and younger in an attempt to assassinate Jesus Christ…so Joseph and Mary and little Jesus are on the run- fugitives in Egypt.
So we have two pictures: One that glamorizes
Christmas and the other that is a Reality Check.
Life is sometimes like that – in fact Life is almost always like that!!
*Boyhood Dreams – pro athlete, pilot, invent something, make lots of money –
Then Reality Sets In
*Perfect woman – and when she’s not & we’re not- Reality Sets In
*Happy Family – disappointments, divorce, disrespect from the kids
Reality Sets In
*Great Opportunities – something goes wrong and your actions or those of someone else puts you in a hard place, difficult circumstances, or life feels like a relational and emotional prison…
Life - Real Life Is a Reality Check - And what we do with that Reality Check is up to us- but it will affect us for Eternity!!
Now, consider some obvious truths of our Christmas Reality Check:
1. God Gets Involved in the Lives of People who Listen to Him
Joseph & Mary are engaged to be married – Luke 1 – God sent an angel to Mary and he said something like, “Guess what? You’re going to get pregnant before you get married!”
And Mary said “No I’m not”
And he said, “Oh yes you are”.
And she said, “I will not! I’m a Virgin & will be until my wedding night.”
Angel "Mary, you don’t understand. If you are willing and if you say yes to a Miracle from God, you will give birth to the Savior of the world. Mary - - you will still be a virgin.”
As she tried to understand what the Angel was saying – he spoke again: “Mary, listen to me: You have a heart for God and He has decided to show His favor to you in a special way: He has chosen you for an incredible miracle. In just a short time you will be miraculously and instantly pregnant with the Son of God - who will save His people from their sins.”
As you can imagine - this was hard to believe - but soon the obvious signs of pregnancy began to confirm what the angel said. The tough part was to convince Joseph. Think about Joseph. In Matthew chapter 1 – When Mary finally told Joseph, he was Shocked – Angry – Blown away – Hurt – Mad – Probably Depressed…
*He decided to break off their engagement and walk away – it would be embarrassing & tough to do… but he couldn’t trust her after this – especially when she’s fantasizing about angels and all…
Then God speaks to Joseph - probably through the same Angel that Mary told Joseph about…and there’s something within Joe that believes what the angel said. His shock melts away, his anger is dissipated, his hurt is healed, his depression turns to hope.
All of that to make the first Christmas Reality Check Clear:
God Gets Involved in the Lives of People who Listen to Him -
If and when we Listen to God and accept His truth, God can do Miracles in us and for us and even through us. But we have to Listen to Him – and His Word – and His Truth and let it change us – let it make us more like Him. If we will do that, there is no limit to what God can do in and through us.