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Summary: Mary and Joseph lived righteous lives in an unrighteous world. The only thing preventing us from finding favor with God in the same way is our daily choices. Student Ministry PowerPoint format.

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This discussion was originally presented in PowerPoint format to a high school audience. If you have questions or would like the original PowerPoint, feel free to contact me at robert.fox@alltel.com

A good deal of the content in this presentation came from the excellent messages by C. Raymond van Pletson: “The Nativity Story: The Courage of Joseph” and “The Nativity Story: The Faith of Mary”, altered by myself for a teen audience.

The four video clips mentioned in this text can be found among the free resources provided at

http://www.nativityresources.com/video.html

[Christmas – Faith and Courage]

Slide graphic: Mary and Joseph at the manger, preferably from the movie “Nativity”

Slide text: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

There’s a new Christmas movie that just came out, called “Nativity”, that I’m dying to go see. The screenplay was written by the same guy who wrote “The Rookie.” I really liked that one. In fact, I showed a clip from it in October when we were talking about the danger of “seeking signs” to determine God’s will.

Because the actual locations of Bethlehem and Nazareth have become fairly modernized over the years, the production decided to shoot in the village of Matera, Italy, which has been virtually unchanged for centuries (and was previously used as a location for The Passion of the Christ). Additionally, the production journeyed to Ouarzazate, Morocco where it shot scenes involving Herod’s castle and the temple of Jerusalem at the same locations used in such films as Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven. Most of you have seen all three of those movies and may enjoy figuring out which sites were used in different ways in different movies.

The Nativity is, of course, the story of the birth of Christ – the incarnation of God made human to walk among us, for the sole purpose of dying for our sins. That’s kind of the whole point of Christmas, after all, and this is definitely not the first time the story has been told. But this movie doesn’t really focus on the baby. The main focus of the movie is on Mary and Joseph. I find that really interesting.

Think about what it must have been like for these two. Today, I want you to put yourself in their place – think about what your life would be like if you were Mary or if you were Joseph. Close you eyes and really focus on it this morning, and we’ll see what you can learn about your own life from the courage of Joseph, and the faith of Mary.

[Who Was Mary?]

Slide graphic: picture of Mary, from the movie, “Nativity”

Slide Text:

26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,

27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

(Luke 1:26-28)

All right, fess up. I know you people are Brittany Spears fans. No? Hannah Montana? No? I thought they were all the rage? Adored by millions, famous, pretty, successful, cool, popular. All the little girls wanted to be just like them. What happened? Their fame didn’t last. Here today and gone tomorrow.

But the Christmas story tells about a girl who lived 2000 years ago who is still famous today. We don’t know if she was pretty or not. She wasn’t wealthy, and odds are that few people outside her home town knew who she was. But there was “something about Mary…” She had character – an inner beauty – that even impressed God.

If you’ve ever been to a Catholic service, you’ve probably heard the congregation quote what the angel said in this passage. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” The message this angel brought would shatter all the plans Mary had ever made for her life, and yet she responded with such strong faith that, even though she was young, we have to conclude she had been living out that faith for some time. That’s why we call it “practicing your faith” – because it takes constant practice to keep it strong. Faith isn’t something you can skip over, and then pull out of the air when the situation demands.

Let’s look at the angel’s message.

“Hail Mary”/”Greetings” The angel didn’t come down with a generic “people of earth” message. He hunted Mary down specifically. This was a personal message straight from God to Mary, via the angelic messenger service. Mary was sought out specifically, even though she was just an unknown teenage girl when the angel appeared to her, perhaps between thirteen and fifteen years of age. We know she had just become engaged to Joseph, and in the culture at that time marriages were arranged just after a girl entered puberty. Betrothal gifts were exchanged and the couple was legally betrothed, although they had to live separately for one year before actually being married. All her possessions already belonged to her fiancé, and, if she was unfaithful, it was considered adultery.

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