Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This is a sermon for Christmas Eve. (includes quotes from "God Came Near" & "The Purpose of Christmas" Art work can be emailed (a manger set, under a Christmas tree hidden by Christmas gifts)

In Jesus Holy Name December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve– Luke 2:8-12 Redeemer

“Can You See The Manger?”

The Christmas event that we celebrate this evening is God’s love story, visible and recorded in human history.

The message of Christmas is simple. “You matter to God.” You really do. You matter to God so much that He came to earth, wrapped not just in swaddling clothes but wrapped in human flesh and bone.

In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics 9based on Biblical principles) in public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following story in their own words.

It was nearly the holiday season, 1994 time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger.

Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cord board to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.

Following the instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully, laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out night gown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States.

The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously.

For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately- until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said, “And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay.

I told him I have no momma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.

So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?” And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.” So I got into the manger, and Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him…for always.”

As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him for-always. (from Sermon Central –Matthew Rodgers)

How many of you have a manger set that you display in your home at Christmas? Christmas is such a wonderful time. Families celebrate. Gifts are exchanged. Even in difficult economic times people find a way to give gifts that express their love for one another.

Turn to the last page of your bulletin and you’ll see a manger scene underneath a Christmas tree. Christmas has become a powerful economic force in America. The consumer culture often shapes our holiday. Christmas is not the sole possession of the Church. Tiny white lights fill our shrubs and windows. We searched for just the right tree on which we placed ornaments accumulated through the years.

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