Summary: The Christmas Story not only proclaims God’s love in his incarnation, but also demonstrates how God moves through the lives of regular people to establish his kingdom
Matthew 1:18-25 “Be Prepared – Proclaim the Birth”
The Christmas Story is the story of God--Creator of the Universe--interacting with human history. This story, however, is not just about God’s loving and grace-filled activity, it is also about Mary and Joseph. This young Galilean couple is used by God in a special way to change the course of human history, and transform the lives of billions of people forever.
The birth of Jesus the Christ in the little town of Bethlehem is certainly a one time event. At the same time, the way that the Holy Spirit moves through Mary and Joseph is timelessly characteristic of how God uses his people to spread the Kingdom of God. We can learn a great deal about how God seeks to move in and through us, by meditating on how God acted in the lives of Mary and Joseph.
The potential of not only being transformed ourselves, but also being instrumental in the transformation of other people and of our world—like Mary and Joseph--is a reality in our lives today.
The Church has historically understood that God communicates his love and grace to us in special occasions called, “sacraments.” In the Lutheran church, we have two sacraments: baptism and Holy Communion. In baptism and communion, God uses an earthly element (water, bread, and wine), combines it with his Word and the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ, and touches our lives with the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
The Christmas Story, about Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus, tells how Mary and Joseph lived sacramental lives. Their lives are the earthly elements that were used by God. God combined these elements with the Holy Spirit in order to conceive Jesus. This mixture of the human and divine became a means for God to bless the world in a unique manner.
Though the birth of Jesus is a never-to-be-repeated event, people living sacramental lives are not. Throughout the ages, God has joined his Holy Spirit with people to reach people and touch lives. These people range from the New Testament figures of Peter and Paul, to the Reformation figure of Martin Luther, to the modern day saints of Albert Schweitzer and Mother Theresa, to everyday people like you and me.
Together we have ministered to physical, emotional and spiritual the needs of individuals and families. We have provided for the Christian education of children, youth and adults. We have supported ministries in our state’s universities, disaster relief to flood and storm victims, and fed some of the world’s hungry. Lives will be different because what how God has used us to touch the lives of those people around us, and impact the Surprise community.
THE PRICE OF OBEDIENCE
Sacramental lives usually demand a cost. Mary and Joseph paid a high price to be used by God in the unique and wonderful way in which they were used.
• Mary’s reputation as good girl was destroyed by her out of wedlock pregnancy.
• Joseph faced the ridicule of his peers because his wife, Mary, was damaged goods, and Jesus was not his own son.
• Both Mary and Joseph were separated from their families, they were forced into exile and had to start life over in a different country.
• Later, Mary was forced to endure the searing pain of watching her son being crucified and die.
We may be called radical, prudish, or foolish. As disciples of Jesus who strive to live sacramental lives, we are called to love when there is no reward, to fight for the underdog when it is not popular, and to give of our time, talent and treasures for others, when we have many ways that we could use them for our own benefit. Christians have endured the greater costs being rejected by family and friends, giving up safety and security, and even offering up their lives in service to others.
When the people of God are joined together with the Holy Spirit the world is able to celebrate the coming of “Emmanuel,” God with us.
When the people of God are joined together with the Holy Spirit, the world is able to experience the truth of “Jesus,” God saves.
When the people of God are joined together with the Holy Spirit people are reached and lives are changed.
For God so loved the world, he gave his son …
Mary and Joseph loved God so that they allowed him to use them to bring salvation to a world in need. The world is still in need of sacramental lives. Amen