Summary: A sermon for Christmas Eve 2020

“An Odd Cast of Characters”

Luke 2:1-17

A sermon for Christmas Eve, 2020

Pastor John Bright

Luke 2 “1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,

And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

You need a varied cast of characters in a good story. I have been telling you about the different shows I like to watch. There’s a reality-TV show that I have enjoyed for about 10 years – “Storage Wars.” Folks have come and go in this show about auctions of abandoned storage units, but I still like the original guys and gals the best – Jarod and Brandy were the young ones; Dave Hester was the perpetual bad guy that loved to make other people pay more for a storage unit; Darryl Sheets was the gambler trying to teach his son the business; and finally, there was the funny guy, Barry Weiss, always trying a new trick and always losing the most money. I just got used to watching these very different people all trying to get that one unit that would make them rich. In 2012, Darryl and his son purchased a unit for $3,600 that contained $300,000 of contemporary art (the artist owned the unit and worked out a payment for the art). In real life, in 2018 a couple paid $500 for a unit with a safe – it contained $7.5 million in cash (the owners paid them $1.2 for returning the money). Earlier, in 2011, a man paid $1,100 for a unit and inside was a Rubbermaid container with pirate treasure – Spanish coins, gold and sliver bars – worth half a million dollars.

The story we read tonight has an odd cast of characters finding a treasure. Who is there on that night, 2000 years ago, in Bethlehem?

Joseph and Mary – they have traveled the 70 miles from Nazareth while Mary is in her ninth month of pregnancy. That means she was really, really pregnant. Maybe that’s why tradition holds she rode a donkey, but it’s not found in the Gospel account. We usually think of Mary going into labor as Joseph tries desperately to find a room for them. Luke simply records it this way – “6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

These brand-new parents have been visited by angelic messengers to put them on this path that a year before they would never have imagined. Can you imagine what that’s like? HAHAHA – we can all relate as we are in our 9th month of coronavirus restrictions – lockdowns, masks, gallons and gallons of hand sanitizer. They did not know that their baby boy had to be born in the town of Bethlehem – that it would fulfill the prophecy that would later guide the Wise Men. Point is – Joseph and Mary are right where God needs them to be. Are you? Hard to know, but always allow for that possibility… even if you end up where you never expected to be!

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